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France's Macron defends his dealings with Uber

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We've been talking this week about leaked documents that show the lengths to which Uber went to take on the taxi industry in country after country. In France, the Uber files have provoked new questions about the role of President Emmanuel Macron. Here's Rebecca Rosman.

REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: Uber's courting of Macron started in 2014, according to text messages and emails leaked by a former Uber executive. The company was desperately looking for an ally who could help them expand their operations in France. Emmanuel Macron was then working as the economy minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande. Amidst the trove of more than 124,000 documents known as the Uber files, there was proof of secret meetings with lobbyists, reassurances of support and suggestions that Macron offered to help Uber expand the company at the expense, his critics say, of France's licensed taxi drivers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

ROSMAN: On Tuesday, Macron brushed off the allegations, telling reporters he was, quote, "proud" of supporting Uber because they created jobs for French workers, adding he would "do it again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow." French authorities quickly backed the president, saying his actions were part of his normal duties as minister. But opposition politicians on the political left and far right are calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the details of Macron's relationship with Uber.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANCOIS RUFFIN: (Speaking French).

ROSMAN: Speaking to France Inter radio on Tuesday, far-left MP Francois Ruffin for an investigation into Macron's 2017 presidential campaign donors, implying some sort of ongoing quid pro quo. Macron, meanwhile, has praised Uber for giving jobs to thousands of young people from the troubled working-class suburbs. That explanation isn't enough to please France's licensed cab drivers, who, unlike Uber drivers, have to undergo around 300 hours of training and pay up to 250,000 euros for an official taxi license. So far, their protests against what they call the Uberization (ph) of France haven't worked. But opposition forces in parliament say, this time, they're going to make sure the president listens.

For NPR News, I'm Rebecca Rosman.

(SOUNDBITE OF FATB AND TESK’S "BLOOM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rebecca Rosman
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