BERLIN German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday he had nothing against his former French colleague Pierre Moscovici for the top economic job at the European Commission but believed France must get its finances in order without further delay.
Schaeuble appeared to question Moscovici's suitability to be the new commissioner for monetary and economic affairs last week in Freiburg, when he linked this to France's persistent failure to reduce its budget deficit to within European Union limits.
But the minister told German radio on Friday "that was not about Mr Moscovici". He repeated what he said in Freiburg about the two of them having worked well together in Moscovici's time as French finance minister from 2012 to April this year.
In negotiations about the next European Union executive body to serve under Jean-Claude Juncker, who takes over as Commission president in November, France is insisting on its candidate for the economics post in return for accepting Denmark's premier as head of the European Council who has the job of chairing EU summits.
Schaeuble was due to speak at an event in Paris later on Friday with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. On Thursday he held talks in Berlin with the current French finance minister, Michel Sapin.
Schaeuble urged an end to the debate about giving Paris yet another extension to its deadline for cutting its deficit to the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP, saying: "I agree with my colleague (Sapin) that this debate doesn't create confidence but rather uncertainty."
(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Michelle Martin)