Juncker health problems exposed at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation event

Jean Claude Juncker NATO summit European Union

NATOJean-Claude Juncker struggled to stand unaided

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.

Juncker was seen unsteady on his feet at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit event - to the extent where the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Portugal had to prop him up - before having to be helped away in a wheelchair.

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.

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

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"That was unfortunately the case Wednesday night". Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also stepped in to guide Juncker. He added that Juncker made no secret about his illness and is now on medication and feels better. Sciatica is a medical condition that may cause pain going down the leg from the lower back.

Mr Juncker, whose five-year term at the head of the commission ends next year, has faced questions before about his public demeanour. His spokesperson said: "I think it's more than tasteless that some press try to make insulting headlines by exploiting president Juncker's pain".

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".

The spokesman added that Juncker had a "full programme" at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the commission on Thursday, and will stick to a "very demanding agenda" next week including a trip to China and Japan. This is not the first time that Juncker has exhibited behaviour that indicates a drink problem. In 2015, he was filmed kissing European Union leaders on the head and slapping them on the stomach, chest and even the face.

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