Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Back pain, not alcohol, caused Juncker summit stumble, European Union says

Back pain, not alcohol, caused Juncker summit stumble, European Union says

If the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit was tough on the dozens of leaders attending, it appears to have been even tougher on European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman and President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko assisted him when he lost his balance as he was speaking to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

But Juncker's spokesman said on Friday that the 63-year-old had been suffering from a bad case of back pain and hit back against reports about the Commission president's supposed alcoholic proclivity.

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.

Mr Juncker has said he suffers from sciatica that sometimes affects his movements.

The term sciatica describes the painful symptoms when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hips to your feet, is irritated due to something pressing or rubbing on it.

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Trump, who is set to host European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Washington this month, repeated his line that the EU was treating the United States unfairly on trade, shutting out US farmers. Sciatica is a medical condition that may cause pain going down the leg from the lower back.

"I think it's more than tasteless that some press try to make insulting headlines by exploiting President Juncker's pain", Schinas added. "He is taking medication and feels better".

At the opening of a summit in the Latvian capital Riga in 2015 a light-hearted and tactile Juncker kissed leaders on the head, fiddled with their ties, saluted, and slapped them not just on the back but also on the stomach, chest and face.

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

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