Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned that Europe could be plunged into war if the euro was to collapse.
The senior Liberal Democrat said the consequences would be "incalculable" and said there was "no automatic guarantee" that Europe would not disintegrate into conflict.
"I think we need to take stock that if the eurozone were to unravel in a way that destroyed the European project - and there is a risk that could happen - the consequences would be absolutely incalculable," Mr Cable said.
"We tend to forget, until we were reminded last week of that Nobel Prize, the European project was constructed in order to rescue Europe from extreme nationalism and conflict.
"There is no automatic guarantee that won't return."
Mr Cable spoke during an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival called Austerity, the euro and us.
The minister described the euro as "very valuable" and had to be maintained - otherwise Britain would suffer.
"We are not in the eurozone so we cannot directly influence it. We will be heard very loudly if it does unravel," Mr Cable told the audience.
"My sense is that the Germans in particular realise how much is at stake. A series of sensible measures have been taken in recent months.
"I think deep down there is enough common sense and a sense of survival to prevent this getting out of control. If it does, I'm afraid the consequences for us will be awful."