Cottbus lies in the middle of brown coal country. That means open-cast mining and power stations, something for fans of industrial heritage. But the city is also a small gem for architecture-lovers.
Cottbus, in the Lausitz or Lusatia, region, is both traditionally-minded and modern. The homes of the 18th century tanners are picturesque, while the glass building that houses the library of Brandenburg University of Technology is a state-of-the-art landmark. Designed by the celebrated Swiss architects Jaques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, it's a place where students love to work and a must-see for architecture fans. Cottbus also as a sweet side. What Sachertorte is to Vienna, Baumkuchen, a circular layer cake that resembles a tree, is to Cottbus. In 1819, a local woman, Marie Groch, is said to have baked the first one here. Nowadays this Lusatian specialty is an export hit.
Germany's borrowing costs have fallen to a record low on an EU decision to impose new sanctions against Russia. While investors flee to the safe haven of German debt, they are selling shares in firms exposed to Russia.
The EU has for the first time adopted new sanctions against Russian oil companies, banks and defense firms over the Kremlin's support of separatist violence in Ukraine. Similar measures from the US could soon follow.
The South American trade alliance Mercosur is trying to strengthen its clout worldwide. A free trade agreement with the EU is in the works, but some member states' domestic agendas are proving distracting.