The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has had to cut his vacation in Austria short for medical purposes and return to his own country, Luxembourg, where he will undergo urgent surgery, the executive branch of the European Union announced this Saturday.

"The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker had to shorten his holiday in Austria for medical reasons. He was taken back to Luxembourg where he will undergo an urgent cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder)," the EC said in a statement.

In recent years there has been considerable speculation about the health problems afflicting the 64-year-old Juncker.

In July of last year, he was involved in an incident during a NATO summit meeting that gave rise to a series of rumors that obliged the European Commission's executive branch to offer explanations about the health of its president.

Some pictures taken of the EC president during a photo session of NATO leaders before their gala dinner showed how the prime ministers of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, and of Portugal, Antonio Costa, had to come to the aid of Juncker, who managed to keep standing but with obvious difficulty when coming down the stairs of the podium installed there for the photos.

That same night he was seen sitting in a wheelchair.

As the European Commission explained at the time, the problems were due to an attack of a particularly sharp pain set off by the sciatica that Juncker had suffered for a number of years, a recurrent problem - said to have been initially caused by a 1989 car accident - and one that, as he told a EU spokesperson at the time, made it hard for the head of European Commission to walk.

Former Luxembourg Prime Minister (1995-2013) Jean-Claude Juncker has served as EC president since 2014. His term ends in November of this year and he has announced that he will not seek a second term. EFE-EPA mb/cd