German FinMin in Brussels hospital, misses EU talks

By Paul Carrel

BERLIN (BestGrowthStock) – German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was admitted to hospital Sunday after an apparent bad reaction to new medicine, missing an EU meeting and raising questions about his capacity to steer Europe’s largest economy.

Schaeuble, who has used a wheelchair since he was shot and nearly killed by a mentally ill man in 1990, made it to Brussels for the EU meeting but went to hospital after the medicine he took Saturday appeared to disagree with him.

Schaeuble, 67, has been in and out of hospital several times this year and last month missed international meetings in Madrid and Washington due to healing complications following an operation earlier in the year.

His admission to the hospital in Brussels meant he missed Sunday’s meeting of European Union finance ministers at which they defended the euro and sought to ring-fence Greece’s debt crisis to stop it spreading.

“The health of Mr Schaeuble is a point of discussion in Berlin,” said Gerd Langguth, political scientist at Bonn University and biographer of Merkel.

“At a time like this you need a finance minister who can work at full capacity without limits,” he added.

An official in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office said she was not planning to reshuffle her cabinet after Schaeuble’s was admitted to hospital.

Schaeuble was under observation in a Brussels hospital and his state of health was not dramatic, his spokesman said.

Some media have speculated that Hesse state premier Roland Koch could be a possible successor to Schaeuble.

However, Merkel confidante Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was dispatched to Brussels to lead the German delegation at Sunday’s meeting. De Maiziere has also previously been mentioned as a possible finance minister.

Schaeuble has been at the forefront of German efforts to find a solution to the Greece debt crisis and delivered an impassioned speech to lawmakers Friday, urging them to back a bill to release aid to Athens — which they did.

A surprise pick as finance minister last October, Schaeuble is a hard-nosed and independent-minded political veteran who has pursued a policy of budgetary rigor since taking the job.

He is seen as one of the most talented German politicians of his generation and may have become chancellor himself had he not become ensnared in a funding scandal that damaged his Christian Democrats and former mentor Helmut Kohl a decade ago.

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(Additional reporting by Madeline Chambers and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Jon Boyle)

German FinMin in Brussels hospital, misses EU talks