EU's Jean-Claude Juncker stumbled at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation gala because of 'sciatica attack'

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.

His representatives have hit back at accusations of intoxication, saying the President of the European Commission had suffered from a particularly painful back ache caused by a medical condition called sciatica.

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, told Dutch TV that he was not aware that Juncker had "serious health problems" but knew that he "had a back problem for a while".

Juncker was not drunk, the spokesman said, when he was seen on video unsteady on his feet before a dinner of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders in Brussels.

"The president has himself publicly stated that this sciatica affects his ability to walk", he continued. "That was unfortunately the case Wednesday night", Schinas added.

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Juncker, who is not standing again as commission president when his term ends in 2019, was meeting Donald Trump's new ambassador to Brussels on Friday. He added that Juncker made no secret about his illness and is now on medication and feels better.

The spokesman also blasted "insulting headlines" that were "exploiting president Juncker's pain". "I think it's been a very effective way of negotiating, but I'm not negotiating, I just want fairness for the United States", he said.

It is not the first time Juncker's behaviour at public events has faced scrutiny. In 2015, he was filmed kissing European Union leaders on the head and slapping them on the stomach, chest and even the face.

He also teased the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, over his strongman reputation, greeting him jokingly as "dictator".

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