Germany alone cannot keep the European Union together, it needs France, says finance minister

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Axel Schmidt | Reuters

The Franco-German relationship has been fundamental to develop the European Union over its 60 years of existence. Breaking that relationship would mean the dismantling of the European Union, the German finance minister said.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, has also quashed comments made by the U.S. administration that Germany has manipulated the euro for its economic benefit.

"We need a strong France, Germany alone cannot hold Europe together," Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, told a news conference on Tuesday.

France, the second-largest euro economy, has seen a rise in anti-EU sentiment as the country comes closer to a presidential election in late April.

The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has pledged to take France out of the euro, is currently placing first in projections for the first round. However, polls indicate that she is likely to lose the second round of the vote to the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron. But Macron himself, a relatively new face in French politics, is often seen as an alternative to the establishment.

"I am closely watching what happens in France. I am convinced that France and the French people will make a responsible decision at the elections," Schaeuble told journalists. He added: "I have deep respect for the cleverness of the French voter which has been backed by the outcome of their regional elections." In December, the Front National did not manage to build on first-round leads in the French local elections.

Schaeuble also denied during the press conference that his country manipulated the euro to gain a trade advantage against countries like the U.S.

"We have not manipulated anything, it is the competitiveness of the German economy," Schaeuble told CNBC.

According to the outspoken minister, Europe is in a "very difficult" situation and all efforts are needed to ensure its stability.

Adding to the uncertainty, Germans go to the polls to choose a new chancellor in September. Polls suggest that the powerful Angela Merkel could be overtaken at the ballot by her socialist rival.

Merkel has been in power for more than 11 years, however, Schaeuble doesn't believe that the German chancellor is "tired at all."

"I am convinced that she is the best leader for a strong Germany and for a strong Europe also the next four years in a new government," he added.

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