PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron fired back at critics Tuesday following accusations he negotiated a “secret deal” with the ride-hailing company Uber when he was economy minister, saying he “stands by” his past dealings with the American firm.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to a factory in the French Alps, Macron said he would repeat his actions “again, tomorrow and the day after.”
The French president has come under fire after internal Uber documents leaked to the press were published over the weekend, revealing privileged exchanges between several senior figures from Uber and Macron while he was economy minister from 2014-2016.
The trove of documents, analyzed by the Guardian and Le Monde, reveal that Macron struck a deal favorable to Uber within the French Cabinet, apparently in response to the firm’s intense lobbying efforts, which included text messages between Macron and Uber’s co-founder Travis Kalanick.
Among the more notable exchanges published in the Uber Files, the French president reportedly texted Kalanick, “We had a meeting yesterday with the prime minister. [Then-Prime Minister] Cazeneuve will keep the taxi[s] quiet and I will gather everybidy [sic] next week to prepare the reform and correct the law. Caz accepted the deal.”
Macron also allegedly held undeclared meetings with Uber officials and advanced their interests despite opposition from left-wing ministers and local taxi services.
On Tuesday, Macron brushed aside the accusations the meetings were hidden from the public and accused critics of creating an atmosphere in which meeting foreign CEOs “was a bad thing.”
“I stand by [what I did], I saw foreign CEOs, shock, horror,” he said with irony. “I saw them in official meetings with my advisers. And if they created jobs in France, I’m really proud of it.”
The revelations however provided ammunition to the French opposition that seized on the opportunity — particularly now that Macron no longer holds an absolute majority in parliament following June’s parliamentary election. Both the left-wing NUPES alliance and the far-right National Rally have called for inquiries into the allegations.