Elisa Ferreira and two other commissioners in quarantine after contact with João Leão

Three European commissioners will remain in isolation after having been with the Portuguese minister of Finance, João Leão, who tested positive for covid-19.

A spokesman for the European Commission told Dinheiro Vivo that “Executive Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, are considered contact persons”, being quarantined.

“These three members of the College of Commissioners have been informed and will respect Belgian quarantine rules as of today (test on the seventh day; quarantine at least until the result of the second test; exemption from exercising essential functions)”, said the same official source community executive.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “neither the other members of the College’s delegation meet the criteria to be considered contact persons”, the spokesman said.

Paulo Ribeiro Pinto is a journalist for Dinheiro Vivo


What you could learn from Friedrich Merz

On Saturday 1001 delegates elect their new chairman at the CDU party congress. There is a choice of three medium to fairly old white men from North Rhine-Westphalia: Friedrich Merz, Norbert Röttgen and Armin Laschet. Find the flaw in these two simple statements!

And before you join in the well-known lamentation that this old men’s party cannot even manage – even if only as an alibi – to put up at least one candidate, allow me to have another thought, which I would like to share with you would like to discuss: Perhaps the CDU women are to blame for the problem of a lack of female power in their leadership ranks?

As far as I can tell, no one stopped her from applying for the job as well. And it’s really not the case that bony Union grandees have recently wanted to whip their party friends back to church, children and saucepans, is it? Understanding of the concerns of modern urban women is now as en vogue in enlightened conservative circles as it used to be when hunting permits or gold button blazers and is often introduced with the sentence: “I have three daughters myself …”

The fact that the Union is no longer a party to prevent women can be seen from the simple fact that the three most important political posts in Brussels and Berlin are currently in the hands of women from the CDU: Ursula von der Leyen is the president of the European Union Commission the fortunes of the EU.

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Angela Merkel has been German Chancellor for almost 16 years and, if she resigns at the end of the year, she could also set Helmut Kohl’s old record of office, who once patronizingly called her “my girl”. And Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been the CDU leader for two years, although this is more part of the problem than the solution.

AKK didn’t fail because of bad old men

The fact that the party has been messing around with its successor for a year also has to do with the fact that AKK simply couldn’t manage it. Incidentally, this should be said without mockery. True equality may only be achieved if women in top positions fail or are allowed to prove to be incapable as their male colleagues have been up to now.

And if they can then be thrown out just as easily. Without provoking Twitter shitstorms or customer boycotts, which today seem to be part of the standard repertoire of every public equality debate.
In any case, in her short time as party leader, AKK failed because of many things, probably not because of the bad old men.

Friedrich Merz, Armin Laschet, Norbert Röttgen

The three candidates for the CDU chairmanship have one thing in common: They are white men.

(Photo: dpa)

It is not the case that the male triumvirate Röttgenlaschetmerz would represent the ultimate ratio of charisma and toughness. Your internal party “election campaign” sometimes seemed as if the participants in an ecumenical Bible study group were throwing perfumed cotton balls at each other. Everyone was largely in agreement, but Röttgen always looked a little better.

And no woman dared stand up to this trio? Come on! What went wrong in the past – except that apparently not even three female bosses guarantee a change in the internal corporate culture? Have decades of quota battles, equality debates and unconscious bias workshops, full of women’s networks and parking lots and gender chairs still not been enough for one, at least one, to trust the CDU chairmanship?

On the one hand, significantly more women than men voted for the CDU in the last federal election. On the other hand, only one in four party members is female. In the gap in between, the CDU women made themselves comfortable with their lament against old men and glass ceilings.

Friedrich Merz is a role model – at least in part

The party’s internal women’s union likes to warn against alienating many potential voters this year if there are no more female identifiers in the leadership of the party. At the head of the group, Annette Widmann-Mauz from Swabia fights for “that women of all ages have the same opportunities to develop their individual lives and to influence political decision-making processes”. She has been doing this for five years, but apparently without any significant success. Or is the top job so horrific?

In a different context, I once heard the beautiful, because wonderfully cool, sentence from Telekom board member Claudia Nemat: “Heroes can be recognized under torture.” Heroines too. But if I understand it correctly, the Women’s Union doesn’t want tough fighters at all, but rather more daycare places, punctual meeting times, voting via Skype and thus simply more family-friendliness in the Berlin company for the female political offspring, as well as somehow too self-critical. It is precisely with this constant questioning of themselves that women often stand in their own way. Say the women.

Hm. You hardly dare to say, but: Dear CDU ladies, then please take an example from Friedrich Merz! He never questions himself, but like her, is chronically in his own way, even if only looking for the next fat bowl. He lost the most important elections of his life. Against women. Once against Angela Merkel. Once against AKK. Nevertheless, he always competes. And yet many in the CDU respectfully regard him as a kind of substitute savior.

Merz just wants to know again and again. Just a stand-up man. The fact that this term is so gender-focused and that no female standing up is in sight could perhaps be investigated again by a chair for gender studies. Or at least be the starting point for the next women’s offensive by the CDU women. One that really deserves this name.
They see it differently – or have comments, questions, perhaps a topic that this column should also address. Discuss with our author below or contact him directly in confidence: [email protected]

More: Merz, Laschet or Röttgen – who has the best chance of becoming the CDU chairman?


After the Wirecard scandal, the EU wants to create more transparency

European Commission in Brussels

The EU paper particularly criticizes the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

(Photo: dpa)

Brussels After the multi-billion dollar fraud scandal surrounding Wirecard, the EU Commission wants to draw conclusions from the payment service provider’s spectacular bankruptcy. An internal discussion paper of the Brussels authority, which is available to the Handelsblatt, calls for the auditors’ reporting obligations to be improved, the exchange of information between the supervisory authorities to be intensified and information about the auditing of the auditors to be made public.

The EU Commission will draw all the necessary lessons from the failure of the former Dax group Wirecard in order to improve the robustness of the EU legal and supervisory framework, it says.

The collapse of Wirecard made waves across Europe. In the summer of last year, the now insolvent financial services provider admitted air bookings of 1.9 billion euros. According to the public prosecutor, it could total around three billion euros.

The EU working paper now proposes to amend the European Transparency Directive in order to better regulate the respective powers of the financial supervisory authorities and the relationship between the individual authorities.

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The proposals from Brussels start with the companies’ audit committees. The authors of the paper suggest that in future these committees also explicitly scrutinize the company’s internal controls to prevent fraud. In addition, the examination boards should make the results of their work public. Finally, the experts suggest that national authorities review the work of the companies’ audit committees.

The auditor’s financial liability is to be tightened

The paper also provides for more transparency requirements for auditors. In future, they should make the efficiency of the internal control systems of the audited companies public. The authors also suggest tightening the auditors’ financial liability for grossly negligent errors or intentional misconduct across Europe.

Another proposal deals with the supervision of the auditors. These overseers could be required to publish their results in abbreviated form when monitoring the auditors. This practice already exists in Ireland, Great Britain and the United States.

Most recently, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) found deficiencies in German supervisory practice and the work of the financial supervisory authority Bafin in the Wirecard case in a report. The EU paper takes up this criticism: “The Wirecard case showed that the German supervisory system with regard to the obligation of companies to provide financial information was in conformity with EU law, but could have contributed to the misrepresentation of company reporting not being uncovered in good time “, It means literally.

ESMA cites the German data protection regulations as one reason for this. Therefore, the authors propose to improve transparency within and between national authorities so that critical information can be passed on without breaching confidentiality obligations.

As early as autumn, the European Parliament asked the EU Commission and the responsible EU authorities to draw conclusions from the deficiencies in the EU legal framework for auditing and supervision. In the EPP, the largest parliamentary group in the European Parliament, the proposals in the working paper on the consequences of the Wirecard scandal are primarily interpreted as criticism of BaFin. The criticism of European financial supervision, on the other hand, is rather weak from the point of view of the economic policy spokesman for the EPP group, Markus Ferber (CSU).

“The European Commission’s thin list of proposals shows that we have no systemic deficits in European financial supervision,” Ferber is convinced. “In the Wirecard case, BaFin failed, not the European level. We shouldn’t fool ourselves: even the best supervisory law is of no use if, on the one hand, enormous criminal energy is used, as in the Wirecard case, and, on the other hand, supervision is as sloppy as BaFin has done. “

Selective improvements in corporate governance, stricter reporting requirements for auditors and a better exchange of information between the supervisory authorities could make financial supervision more robust, but they are not a silver bullet on their own, the European politician warned on Friday.

“The problems at Wirecard could have been discovered much earlier by a properly working financial supervisory authority. The BaFin management and the Federal Ministry of Finance are responsible for the Wirecard disaster, not the European level, ”Ferber is convinced.

More: Inside Finanzaufsicht: What really lacks at Bafin


Economy: GDP shrinks by five percent – economy

The corona crisis plunged the German economy into one of the worst recessions of the post-war period and tore deep holes in the state budget.

The gross domestic product (GDP) collapsed last year by 5.0 percent compared to the previous year, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on the basis of an initial estimate.

Economic output only contracted more strongly during the global financial crisis in 2009, when GDP fell by 5.7 percent.

▶︎ The result: For the first time since 2011, Germany posted a budget deficit for the year as a whole.

According to the Wiesbaden authority, the federal, state, municipal and social security funds spent 158.2 billion euros more than they received last year.

In relation to total economic output, the deficit was 4.8 percent. That was the second-highest deficit since German reunification, only exceeded by the record deficit of 1995, when the trusteeship’s debts were taken over into the state budget.

The state’s income fell in the Corona crisis. Tax revenue decreased, also because VAT was cut for six months from July 1st to stimulate private consumption. At the same time, government spending increased, among other things due to aid packages worth billions.

▶ ︎ In March and April 2020, parts of the German economy virtually came to a standstill as a result of the pandemic.
▶ ︎ The situation was similar in many other large economies, borders were temporarily closed and supply chains torn.

Although a recovery set in in the summer, there were new restrictions on economic and social life in the face of increasing numbers of infections. The borders, however, remained open.

For the year as a whole, exports (minus 9.9 percent) and imports of goods and services (minus 8.6 percent) fell after price adjustments. Private consumer spending shrank by 6.0 percent and thus more sharply than ever before. Corporate investment in equipment such as machinery also declined.

A number of economists are predicting a strong comeback for Europe’s largest economy this year – despite the lockdown that was initially extended to the end of January.

The upswing in the manufacturing sector is still intact and, in terms of foreign trade, there is growth impetus from demand from China and the USA, argued Lars Feld, for example, recently the head of the Advisory Council on the Assessment of Overall Economic Development.

Most economists currently expect the German economy to return to the level it was before the Corona crisis at the turn of the year 2021/2022 at the earliest – provided that by then so many people have been vaccinated against the corona virus that economic life returns to normal.


New era for banks and tech companies: cooperation instead of confrontation

A Google office in New York

The US internet giant not only cooperates with the major US bank Citi but also with Deutsche Bank and the Spanish BBVA.

(Photo: AFP)

Frankfurt, Denver For years, Jane Fraser has followed the success of Asian super-apps like Ant and Paytm, which millions of people use to settle bills, take out loans and transfer money. When Fraser takes over as head of the US financial giant Citigroup in February, she wants to usher in the next phase of digitization at the Wall Street house. One of the most important projects is to start shortly: a cooperation with Google to offer bank accounts together.

Users in the USA will be able to open the account called “Citiplex” via the Google Pay app. Google is responsible for interaction with customers. However, the money is parked at Citigroup, which provides the necessary regulatory security.

It’s the first time a major Wall Street house has a joint account with a Silicon Valley tech giant. The cooperation stands for a new era of cooperation between banks and Big Tech, which has shown itself in many other places in recent months, both with private and business customers – also in Germany.

Deutsche Bank attracted a lot of attention in the summer when it announced a far-reaching collaboration with Google. At the beginning of December, the two companies signed a ten-year cooperation agreement.

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Ralph Dommermuth on 5G and the Dax 40

Ralph Dommermuth

The United Internet founder wants to build a 5G network in Germany with his company.

(Photo: Thies Rätzke for Handesblatt)

Montabaur Over three decades, Ralph Dommermuth established one of the most important internet companies in Germany in Montabaur. In addition to landline and later also cellular, it penetrated more and more areas.

Now the 57-year-old boss and major shareholder of United Internet is facing his most important strategic shift. In future, he no longer wants to rent into the operator’s networks, but rather to set up his own mobile network. Since he first announced the plans in 2018, the share price of his companies United Internet and 1 & 1 Drillisch has plummeted. Network construction has not yet started. Investors are getting restless.

The road to the network operator is not only long and expensive. He is also attached to important partnerships. Dommermuth needs access to existing networks, at least for a transitional period. But so far he has not been able to come to an agreement with any of the three operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica.

He accuses them of discrimination. “None of the three established providers voluntarily sells us network capacities at prices in line with the market,” said Dommermuth in an interview with Handelsblatt. At the same time, he is aggressive: “We are decisive and are not afraid of a takeover.”

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Stéphanie Riso, the joker of Europe in the Brexit negotiations

They were able to withstand four years of “Brexit fatigue”. The British and European teams in charge of setting the main lines of the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union reached an agreement on Thursday, December 24 at the beginning of the afternoon. The outcome of long negotiations, in several stages, launched following the British referendum of 2016 where the “Leave” prevailed.

A “cordial” climate despite “difficult times”

“We very quickly found ourselves in a downward spiral of delays, remembers an early negotiator, everyone wanted a very quick Brexit, in London and Brussels. It was immediately a terrible race. “ Despite the hopes of the negotiators in London, the Twenty-Seven remained strong to the end and did not split. A senior official notes that “Until the end, the climate for negotiations remained cordial”, and despite some ” difficult moments “, none of the delegations were so overwhelmed that they slammed the door.

This outcome, which comes a handful of days before the December 31 deadline, owes a lot to Stéphanie Riso’s return to the negotiating table. The President of the European Commission, Ursula van der Leyen, even slipped a word for the Frenchwoman when congratulating the negotiating teams, Thursday, during a press conference, welcoming “His efforts, his endurance and his professionalism”.

Main advisor to Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator of the European camp, for the exit agreement obtained last year, she had since joined the cabinet of Ursula van der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, in December 2019.

→ PORTRAIT. Brexit: against the United Kingdom, the European phlegm of Michel Barnier

Taking advantage of an isolated Michel Barnier in his positions at the beginning of December, the President of the European Commission sent Stéphanie Riso to resolve the hot issues that were blocking London. It was she, and her British counterpart David Frost, who discussed the sticking points in the home stretch.

Behind the European strategy

Highlighted in this last sprint, Stéphanie Riso has an atypical profile for a bureaucrat from Brussels, who stands out from her colleagues at the negotiating table. Unlike the former number 2 in the negotiations, Sabine Weyand, she did not study at the College of Europe in Bruges, the classic course of a future senior European official. She did not attend the benches of the National School of Administration (ENA) either.

Holder of a DEA in economics from Paris-Dauphine University (class of 1999), she began her career in banking before an express rise in European institutions.

Her personality “Serious” and “Thoroughly in its files”, according to a former colleague from Brussels, was quickly noticed. Many in the British camp would prefer her to Michel Barnier. It was she who explained to the team of negotiators that keeping Great Britain in the single market after Brexit would cost nearly 10% of European GDP over 15 years. His influence was such that the magazine Politico had ranked him among the 20 women who « shape Brussels » (“Shape Brussels”, in English) in 2017.


US stock exchanges open weaker – investors sell the big technology stocks

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street

The New York Stock Exchange is located on the famous street.

(Photo: dpa)

Frankfurt/New York The US stock markets showed once again on Wednesday that they are not being deterred by political and economic realities. At the start of trading, the prospect of a majority of Senate Democrats sent Wall Street downhill. The Nasdaq fell just under a percent when it opened on Wednesday, but later turned positive.

The US standard value index Dow Jones rose 1.44 percent and closed at 30,829 points – a new record. The broad S&P 500 also set a record. During the course of the day, it reached the 3774 point mark, breaking its previous high of 3770 points. From trading it was only slightly weaker, with an increase of 0.6 percent and 3748 points.

The storm on the Capitol and the chaotic scenes that lasted for hours did not disturb the markets. Only the Nasdaq turned slightly negative at the close of trading, and closed 0.6 percent in the red at 12,741 points. The resilience of the markets surprised market experts. After the close of trading, it was revealed that the Democrats had won both runoff elections in Georgia and that the Senate will be run by the Democrats with a wafer-thin majority. Biden’s party also has a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives.

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Private equity is facing a big boom year

View of Frankfurt am Main

The German private equity market has long since overcome the corona shock from the spring.

(Photo: AFP)

Frankfurt The central banks’ short-term interest rates will remain at a very low level over the longer term. This zero interest rate policy drives investors into alternative asset classes. The private equity market in particular benefits from this. Investments in infrastructure and private loans outside the banking sector (private debt) also remain in demand.

The professional investors have already increased their activity significantly. The offers for private assets are also gradually increasing. For the majority of participants, alternative investments are no longer a niche, but an integral part of the portfolio, says Frank Dornseifer, managing director of the Bundesverband Alternative Investments (BAI).

Investments of this kind would make up an average of 22 percent of the portfolio. By 2025, the proportion is expected to increase to 26 percent.

According to a BAI study, institutional investors rely on alternative investments primarily for reasons of portfolio diversification. 96 percent of those questioned cite this as a reason. A good risk-return ratio is important for 85 percent, for 75 percent alternative investments are a suitable alternative in times of low interest rates.

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Angela Merkel supports Jens Spahn

Jens Spahn

Social Democrats are violently attacking the Federal Minister of Health.

(Foto: imago images/photothek)

Berlin Jens Spahn has had to listen to some criticism of the German vaccination strategy against Corona in the past few days, including from the coalition partner. The Chancellor therefore felt compelled to face her Minister of Health. “Jens Spahn is doing a great job now throughout the days,” said Angela Merkel on Tuesday in Berlin after video consultations with the Prime Minister on the Corona situation. The question of whether he still enjoys her trust does not arise. She is glad that he is so active.

The latest arrow that was shot from the SPD camp was clearly too much for Spahn. “In this really difficult phase of the pandemic, I think the citizens rightly expect unity and determination from their government,” said the CDU politician on Tuesday in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”.

The SPD-governed federal states had sent Spahn and the Chancellery a four-page catalog of questions about the sluggish vaccination start, which could also have been formulated by an opposition party. A total of 24 questions on three topics: procurement, production expansion, inoculation. The paper is available to the Handelsblatt.

Accusations shine through in the questions. “Other industrialized countries have ordered significantly higher vaccine doses in relation to the population,” it says at one point. “Why did the European Commission pre-order so few cans overall and not secure larger quantities of options?”

The SPD states want to find out when the federal government knew what about the status of vaccine research and the procurement plans. What has been done to expand orders for the promising vaccines from Biontech and Moderna in the EU. And what is currently being done to speed up vaccinations in the Federal Republic.

Federal SPD politicians are also targeting Spahn. General Secretary Lars Klingbeil spoke of “chaotic conditions” and called on Chancellor Merkel (CDU) to get involved in the vaccination organization. Party leader Saskia Esken said on Tuesday on RBB-Inforadio that there had been serious questions about vaccination and the procurement of vaccines in recent days.

Essen city vaccination center

The criticism of the federal government’s vaccination strategy is growing. This also creates tension within the grand coalition.

(Photo: Caro / Lueger)

It is true that one is firmly convinced that participating in the European procurement strategy was the right thing to do. The questions regarding the procurement and also the prioritization for vaccination now have to be answered, demanded Esken. “The minister is already responsible for the implementation.” In this case Spahn, who then has to answer the questions.

The health minister warned the coalition partner on Tuesday that in a pandemic it doesn’t work well to want to be “government and opposition at the same time”. “Somehow it has not worked well for the SPD for 20 years,” he said on ARD. “I don’t think things are going any better now in election year.”

Spahn, who is likely to play a prominent role in the Union’s election campaign, suspects a party-politically motivated attack. CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also accused the SPD of “campaigning in the midst of the pandemic”. And CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak spoke of the criticism of Spahn of a “cheap maneuver in the super election year”.

The SPD member of the Bundestag, Florian Post, went particularly far, calling for an investigative committee to deal with problems with vaccine procurement. “Ms. Merkel and Mr. Spahn swore in their oath of office to avert harm to the German people,” he told the “Bild” newspaper. “But both have entrusted the procurement of vaccines to the dilettantes around EU Commission President (Ursula) von der Leyen.”

Doctors fight for human lives in intensive care units. At the cabinet table, the Union and the SPD are fighting each other for the best press. Parliamentary Secretary Marco Buschmann

The question is whether the Social Democrats are doing themselves a favor by making such statements. As part of the federal government, they are at least partly responsible for inadequacies in the national vaccination strategy. A meeting of several cabinet members is planned on Wednesday, who, under the leadership of Merkel, are to discuss an expansion of vaccine production. According to reports, the Federal Finance Minister and SPD candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also in the group.

On Tuesday, Merkel asked for understanding that the government is sticking to its vaccination strategy. It is right that Germany should organize the vaccinations together with the other EU countries in the European Union. First of all, the vaccine is scarce. “We will only be able to vaccinate prioritized groups in the first quarter.” However, the new production facility of the manufacturer Biontech in Marburg, which is in preparation, justifies hope.

Green leader Robert Habeck accused the Union and SPD of damaging the population’s trust in the corona vaccination with the coalition bickering. “Reciprocal accusations, retrospective better knowledge and election campaign preludes are not what we need,” said Habeck of the German press agency.

Instead, the full force must be used to solve the problems. “It is crucial that Germany has enough vaccine available and that the vaccinations are coordinated, run quickly and consistently,” said the Greens chairman.

The FDP also showed little understanding for the coalition dispute. Parliamentary executive Marco Buschmann tweeted: “In the intensive care units, doctors are fighting for lives. At the cabinet table, the Union and the SPD are fighting each other for the best press. “

More: The calls for faster vaccinations for more people are getting louder. The Ministry of Health is examining various measures.