How Emmanuel Macron helped Uber break into the French market

The French president, during his time as Minister of Economics, Industry and Digital Affairs, helped the company sidestep labor laws and burst into the local market

Leaked files have revealed how French president Emmanuel Macron played a leading role in Uber’s entry into the local market through ethically questionable practices and agreements, helping the tech company become one of the most profitable in the world.

During his time as Minister of Economics, Industry and Digital Affairs between 2014 and 2016, Macron went out of his way to assist Uber in gaining a foothold in France through secret deals that made a mockery of the country’s labor laws.

Some 124,000 documents were leaked to the Guardian, pertaining to a five-year period when Uber was run by its co-founder Travis Kalanick.

Macron went to extraordinary lengths to assist Uber in their cause, and even mentioned that he had secured a secret “deal” with the company’s opponents in the French cabinet.

“Thanks dear Travis,” Macron wrote to Kalanick in a 2014 email. “Let us keep in touch and progress together. Best, Emmanuel.”

Uber’s aggressive entry into the French market led to angry protests against the company across the country. In January 2016, when protests kicked off in Paris, Kalanick talked up the idea of Uber drivers holding a counter-protest, despite warnings that this would cook up an even bigger storm.

“I think it’s worth it,” he said. “Violence guarantee[s] success. And these guys must be resisted, no? Agreed that right place and time must be thought out.”

The source of this massive leak of files was none other than Uber’s former chief lobbyist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Mark MacGann.  “It is my duty to speak up and help governments and parliamentarians right some fundamental wrongs. Morally, I had no choice in the matter,” he said.

In 2015, after a French police official sought to ban one of Uber’s services in the city of Marseille, MacGann contacted his loyal ally at the time, Macron, who provided reassurance.

“I will look at this personally,” Macron texted MacGann. “At this point, let’s stay calm.”

The ‘Uber files’ showed how the digital cab-hailing service managed to secure support from prominent political figures, including current US president Joe Biden, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then-Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny among other world leaders.

The Guardian shared the data with 180 journalists in 29 countries via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The latter has shared an extensive report into the leaks, outlining the finer details of Uber’s lobbying efforts and shady agreements with pivotal figures in the world of politics and commerce, which can be found here.

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