Waigel is a lawyer, and earned a doctorate in 1967. He was a member of the Bundestag from 1972 to 2002. He served as Federal Minister of Finance of Germany in the Cabinet of Chancellor Helmut Kohl from 1989 to 1998, and as Chairman of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria from 1989 to 1999. He is known as the father of the Euro, the European currency. He played a vital role in its introduction as German Minister of Finance. In 2009, he was appointed Honorary Chairman of the CSU.
In 2011, a commentator seeing Germany forced perhaps to choose between monetary stability, on the one hand, and the EMU, recalled by way of contrast Waigel's statement at the founding, “We are bringing the d-mark into Europe.”