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EU slams 'tasteless' speculation on Juncker's health

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EU slams 'tasteless' speculation on Juncker's health


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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrives for the second day of a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. Tatyana Zenkovich/Pool via REUTERS


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suffered a painful sciatica attack at a NATO summit this week, a commission spokesman said on Friday, dismissing as "more than tasteless" media speculation that he was drunk.


Comment raised by a video of the EU chief executive staggering and being aided by other leaders on Wednesday evening prompted the German government to insist it had a "very high level of confidence" in Juncker, who will represent the European Union at trade talks in China, Japan and the United States later this month.


The Commission's chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, told reporters that Juncker held a full programme of meetings this week and would fly as planned to China and Japan next week. He is expected to hold crunch talks in Washington later in the month to try to resolve a trade dispute with the White House.


"On Wednesday night, he suffered a particularly painful attack of sciatica, accompanied by cramps," Schinas said, adding that Juncker thanked the Dutch and Portuguese prime ministers for helping him from a podium erected for a group photograph.


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that Juncker had back trouble at the summit and that he did not seem drunk.


Juncker, 63, has previously himself spoken of back and leg pain and serious injuries he suffered in a car accident in 1989. He makes no secret of enjoying a drink but dismisses allegations he has an alcohol problem -- notably aired in British media when London was trying to block his EU appointment four years ago.


People present during the Brussels summit, which was marked by rows between U.S. President Donald Trump and European leaders over military spending, said Juncker, a former long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg, had played a full part in talks.


However, a senior member of the British delegation to the NATO talks told British reporters after the dinner: "He looked like he was either completely trolleyed (drunk) or ill."


Media in Germany, where business is anxious for Juncker to defend its car exports from new tariffs in talks with the Trump administration, and in Britain, where he has long been a target for anti-EU Brexit supporters, carried unflattering pictures, including one of Juncker in a wheelchair before a NATO dinner.


"I think it's more than tasteless that some press try to make an insulting headline by exploiting President Juncker's pain," Schinas said told a daily news briefing, dismissing any suggestion that Juncker was suffering the effects of drink. "I don't think this is elegant and I don't think this is fair."


-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-14
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7 hours ago, smedly said:

The man was very obviously pissed up, I get sciatica once in a while and it does not make me drunk - it can be painful and that was painful to watch, if a UK PM (or other) was to get on like that they wouldn't be in office too long and there is the problem - this unelected head man in Brussels cannot be removed because he was never elected and answers to no one 

Oh, he was elected ... by heads of state, without reference to their electorate who would no doubt have demanded they not vote for him.

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Anybody who thinks he can be drunk there and at the same time be supported by the PM's of all those NATO countries is not thinking very clearly.

Seems more like anti EU posts than reasonable thought out posts.

Edited by stevenl
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BANGKOK 19 July 2018 11:03