France and Germany just became even more besties – they just approved an updated version of the Elysée Treaty which originally solidified their feelings for each other. Designed to complement the original, this newer agreement is a pledge to counter nationalism in Europe.
It spans cooperation on climate change, environmental protection, sustainability, health and digitization. Called the Aachen Treaty, the countries’ leaders will sign it on January 22 in its namesake border town, 56 years to the day when Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle inked the original, put two world wars behind them and created the motor of Europe.
The new treaty’s most interesting feature: France is supporting Germany’s attempt to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Calls to reform the UN Security Council are manifold, notably with African nations, historically overlooked, calling for two permanent seats. For now, Berlin is taking up one of 10 non-permanent seats for a two-year period and has pledged multilateralism and cooperation.
I’d love to hear that from the UK. Brits at home and abroad are worried and frustrated from the storms of hope and dismay. We’re giving the term “referendum” a bad name but a Swiss Social Democrat, Gret Haller, has described how direct democracy works in her country, calling it an ongoing learning process but that it doesn’t have to lead to populism. She says anyone should be able to call a referendum, not just politicians and not those trying to serve political goals. And she notes that it’s okay to vote twice. Um, did you hear that, Westminster?
Berlin is welcoming its newest unicorn, online bank N26, which is now valued at €2.3 billion. It’s a mobile bank – basically an app – and just raised €260 million in the biggest-ever round of financing for a German fintech. That makes it Europe’s largest. It’s already active in 24 countries and is also looking at South American and Asia. There are plans to enter the US, too. I have fond memories of banking in the States, using checks emblazoned with speeding, dusty stage coaches. N26’s choice of check backgrounds will be equally fun, I’m sure.
Much more fun than is currently the case for Deutsche Bank. Private bank M.M. Warburg is suing Germany’s biggest listed lender for its part in the "Cum-Ex" dividend stripping scandal, ratcheting up Deutsche’s already hefty legal risks. To top that, Germany’s securities watchdog now wants Deutsche to re-examine the files of 20,000 risky clients by late June to clamp down on money laundering. It’s already being fined for failing to control customers more closely. And it’s making headlines anyway for paying lower bonuses as more losses beckon. Insiders at the bank say it’s been losing talent for years as workers lose faith in the rumbling restructuring.
The news is about cash as Berliners watch a trial concerning a gold coin, one weighing 100 kilos, or 220 pounds and now worth something over €3 million. It was a commemorative coin that was loaned to the Bode Museum in central Berlin before it was stolen in 2017 in a spectacular heist. Ladders. Wheelbarrows. And an inside conspirator. After several raids, cops have now concluded that the “Big Maple Leaf,” as it’s known, has been melted down. Four men go on trial today charged with the dawn rush.
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