French President Emmanuel Macron went to extraordinary lengths to support Uber in its lobbying efforts to disrupt the closed-shop taxi industry in France when he was the Economy Minister.
New leaked files show that Macron even told Uber that he had brokered a secret “deal” with its opponents in the French cabinet.
Leaked files included text messages between Uber executives and Macron. They reveal just how much the cab-hailing business identified him as a major, key ally when he was economy minister. They turned to him a lot behind the scenes.
The files suggest that Macron, who was very pro-business, was close enough to Uber’s managers in his two years as economy ministry between 2014 and 2016 for them to instantly contact him for possible help when their premises were raided by tax and other authorities.
The exchanges include one by Macron, then-37-year-old ex-Rothschild bank, telling Uber he cut a favorable deal with a bitterly divided Socialist government.
It appeared to involve Uber closing down its most controversial unlicensed service in exchange for much lighter rules for another.
The messages make it seem Macron was, at least initially, exceptionally accommodating to Uber.
Uber in France is a story of a brash American startup playing hardball in old Europe. It includes a lot of protests, police crackdowns, and beaten-up drivers. It also includes a history of digital dirty tricks, executive arrests, inflatable dolls, and swear words.
Macron’s involvement was untold until now.
Uber’s presence causes massive issues in a country that takes workers’ rights seriously and defends them robustly. Uber’s model was seen by most as anathema, causing job insecurity and casualties of labor.
Uber’s drivers also faced the physical fury of France’s licensed cab drivers, who they themselves labored hard under a regulatory regime that included up to 300 hours of obligatory training and a limited quota of taxi licenses.
It appears that Macron wanted Uber to show France there was potential in new, deregulated economies. He said his job was to help the “outsiders” and “innovators.”