EU denies 'insulting' claim Jean-Claude Juncker was drunk at NATO summit

Jean Claude Juncker NATO summit European Union

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was experiencing a sciatic attack when he was seen losing his balance ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit gala dinner, a spokesperson said.

Pictures taken the same night show Mr Juncker being brought into the dinner in a wheelchair.

Speaking on Friday, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas confirmed Mr Juncker had "suffered from a particularly painful attack of sciatica" which was "accompanied with cramps".

Costa said yesterday that Juncker had complained of back pain.

Mr Schinas added: "I don't think this is elegant, I don't think this is fair".

When asked by a reporter if Mr Juncker was drunk, the European Commission spokesman said it is "more than tasteless that some press tried to make insulting headlines by exploiting President Juncker's pain". Sciatica, a lower-back nerve condition, can cause leg pain and weakness. He publicly said that these seizures may be affecting his ability to walk, luckily this did not happen.

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"He is getting medication, which is prescribed for this sort of issue", said the spokesman, who was not able to say whether Juncker was taking over-the-counter painkillers or stronger prescription medication.

Juncker is only 63 years old.

European Council President Donald Tusk, left, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands after the signature of the second EU NATO Joint Declaration, in Brussels on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

The European Commission said on Wednesday (11 July) that "all possible options" are on the table to respond to the confirmation of the United States tariffs on Spanish ripe olives, seen by the Europeans as "not justified".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the government had "high" confidence in Juncker, in reply to a question about Juncker's ability to conduct trade talks in the U.S., for example.

It is not the first time Juncker's behaviour at public events has faced scrutiny.

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