Wolfgang Schaeuble, who helped negotiate German reunification in 1990, was a central figure in the heavy-handed austerity effort to lift Europe out of its debt crisis more than two decades later.
Schaeuble, who was 81, died at home on Tuesday night, his family told dpa.
Wolfgang Schaeuble became Chancellor Angela Merkel’s finance minister in October 2009, shortly before revelations about Greece’s growing budget deficit triggered the crisis that engulfed the European continent and threatened to destabilize the global financial order.
A longtime supporter of greater European unity, he helped lead a years-long effort aimed at deeper integration and a stricter set of rules. However, Germany has come under fire for its emphasis on austerity and apparent lack of generosity.
After eight years as finance minister, Schaeuble cemented his status as an elder statesman by becoming speaker of the German parliament — the latest step in a long political career on the front line.
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