What happened today in France's presidential election

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French presidential candidate Francois Fillon's wife, Penelope, seen here outside her Paris apartment, has also been charged in the fake jobs affair

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon's wife, Penelope, seen her outside her Paris apartment, has also been charged in the fake jobs affair

Less than a month to the first round of the French presidential election, the wife of onetime frontrunner Francois Fillon as charged with complicity in his fake jobs scandal and far-right contender Marine Le Pen said the EU was "crumbling".

Here are four things that happened in the campaign on Tuesday:

- Penelope Fillon charged -

The wife of conservative candidate Francois Fillon was charged with complicity in the abuse of public funds in a scandal that has engulfed her husband's campaign.

He has already been charged in the case involving allegedly fictitious jobs as a parliamentary aide for which the Welsh-born Penelope Fillon was paid hundreds of thousands of euros.

The 61-year-old Penelope was also charged over a salary she received from a literary magazine owned by a billionaire friend of her husband's, Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere.

She has told police she never stepped foot in the offices of the Revue des Deux Mondes, according to a report in the Journal du Dimanche weekly.

- Hamon meets Merkel, wins Schulz backing -

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, who risks elimination in the first round of the election, met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin in a bid to assert his vision to broaden EU decision-making in the eurozone to national parliaments and the European Parliament.

Hamon, 49, is the third French presidential candidate to hold talks with the centre-right German leader after right-wing contender Francois Fillon and Europhile centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron.

Following his meeting with Merkel, Hamon told reporters she had expressed her "reservations" on his proposal.

During his one-day trip to Berlin, the Socialist candidate also received the backing of Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Merkel's challenger in Germany's September general election.

- Le Pen says EU 'crumbling' -

Facing France's employers along with three other candidates, far-right contender Marine Le Pen compared the European Union to a "crumbling" empire.

The leader of the National Front (FN) was grilled by business leaders on how French businesses would measure up to economic giants like China if France were to leave the euro.

"What I see is that nations are moving forward while empires like the European Union are crumbling," she said in response, defending her decision to drop the European common currency if she is elected.

Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum on leaving the European Union within the first six months of her presidency.

- Macron brushes off concerns -

Centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron brushed off concerns about his ability to form a parliamentary majority if elected, declaring his fledgling En Marche (On the move) party to be "France's premier political force".

En Marche claims to notched up 230,000 members in a year. Membership is free.

Macron, who has said he plans to run candidates in all 577 constituencies in the June general election, said he was "shocked" at suggestions that he would not win the vote with a slate of mostly political neophytes.

His conservative rival Francois Fillon is campaigning as the only candidate whose party -- former president Nicolas Sarkozy's Republicans -- has a decent chance of winning the parliamentary vote.

Macron has said the French are tired of the same old faces.