Fury at Macron’s ‘secret deal’ with Uber in France

Opposition politicians have denounced reports of a secret deal between French President Emmanuel Macron - when he was a minister under a socialist government - and online transport giant Uber.

Fury at Macron's 'secret deal' with Uber in France
Protests in 2016 against Uber operating in the French market. Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP

The allegations come in the latest data-based investigation by leading international news outlets based on leaked files, announced on social media as #UberFiles.

A report in France’s Le Monde daily, citing documents, text messages and witnesses, alleges that Uber came to a secret “deal” with Macron when he was economy minister between 2014 and 2016.

Opposition deputies have denounced what they say appears to have been close collaboration between Macron and Uber at a time when the company was trying to get around tight government regulation of their sector.

Contacted by AFP, Uber France confirmed that the two sides had been in contact. The meetings with Macron had been in the normal course of his ministerial duties, which covered the private-hire sector.

The president’s office told AFP that at that time Macron had, as economy minister, “naturally” been in contact with “many companies involved in the profound change in services that has occurred over the years mentioned, which should be facilitated by unravelling certain administrative or regulatory locks”.

But Mathilde Panot, parliamentary leader of the left-wing opposition France Unbowed party, denounced on Twitter what she described as the “pillage of the country” during Macron’s time as minister under president François Hollande.

She described Macron as a “lobbyist” for a “US multinational aiming to permanently deregulate labour law”.

Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel described Le Monde’s story as “damning revelations about the active role played by Emmanuel Macron, then minister, to facilitate the development of Uber in France.

“Against all our rules, all our social rights and against workers’ rights,” he posted on Twitter.

Communist MP Pierre Dharreville called for a parliamentary inquiry into the affair.

The Uber Files investigation is based on a leak of thousands of documents to Britain’s Guardian newspaper from an anonymous source, and has been coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The ICIJ is working with 42 media partners around the world on the story.

First as economy minister and then as president, Macron has positioned himself as champion of the ‘start-up economy’ and has backed companies that ‘disrupt’ traditional business models.

Uber did successfully enter the French market with the VTC ride-hailing service, despite bitter and sometimes violent protests from tax drivers, and is now present in multiple French cities.

French courts, in common with other European countries, have ruled that Uber drivers are employees, not self-employed, and the company must give them full rights including sick pay and holidays.

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Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

Three French ministers, including the Prime Minister, are being sued over 'too high' speed bumps by a motoring organisation which claims they endanger safety and increase pollution.

Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

The association “For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” (Pour une mobilité sereine et durable) has filed a complaint against French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, along with Minister of Environment Christophe Béchu and Minister of Transport Clément Beaune, for endangerment and inaction, according to reporting by Ouest France.

The organisation’s lawyer, Rémy Josseaume, said that the subject of their complaint is the “general laxity” with which speed bumps have been implemented across the country.

The group also cited an increase in pollution as a result of the non-standard bumps, which explains why the ministers of transport and environment were targeted in the grievance.

According to RTL, the organisation has previously attempted to file complaints over “approximately 450,000 speed bumps of all types that do not comply with the regulations.” This most recent complaint has been filed with the Court of Justice of the Republic, accusing the ministers of “deliberately endangering the lives of others.”

The association cites a study conducted over the summer, which found that at least a third of French speed bumps are out of compliance. 

“There are particular consequences linked to noise problems, issues with cracks in certain houses” said Josseaume said to RTL. “These are extremely significant nuisances for fuel consumption and in terms of CO2 emissions.”

These findings have been supported by the Drivers Defence League found that “standard speed bumps increase fuel consumption by 10.5 to 13 percent; whereas, non-standard ones increase consumption by 26 to 28 percent,” the group told Ouest France in 2021.

“For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” hopes to see all of the non-compliant speed bumps fixed, meaning that they should not exceed ten centimetres in height, four metres in length, and that they should only be installed zones where the speed limit is below 30km/h. 

In addition to the complaint citing endangerment, Josseaume also told RTL that an appeal was filed against the State with the administrative court over inaction and a “serious failure to meet its obligations to combat pollution.”