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

President Trump threatens tariffs on EU-made vehicles

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

The EU on Friday said back pain caused European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to stumble at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and denied "insulting" insinuations that he was drunk.

The presidents of Finland and Ukraine supported him during a musical interlude where there were no chairs for spectators, and he was helped by the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Portugal as he descended the podium steps.

"The President, on Wednesday night, suffered a particularly painful attack of sciatica accompanied by cramps", the spokesperson said, adding that Junker had publicly stated in the past that sciatica affects his ability to walk.

If you have sciatica, your bottom, backs of your legs and/or feet and toes may feel painful (the pain may be stabbing, burning or shooting); tingly (like pins and needles), numb and/or weak. He added that Juncker made no secret about his illness and is now on medication and feels better. He has said that he will not run for a second term as Commission president but the obvious question now is whether he is he able to complete his term, which ends in autumn 2019.

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The spokesman also blasted "insulting headlines" that were "exploiting president Juncker's pain". "I don't think this is elegant and I don't think this is fair", Schinas said.

Asked whether Mr Juncker had mixed painkillers and alcohol, Mr Schinas replied: "No he didn't - at least I am not aware of this happening".

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

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

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