Britons commonly lament their culture of binge drinking, but a new European study says the problem is worse in many other countries, including Ireland and Romania
Britons regularly wring their hands over the perception that the country is turning into a nation of binge drinkers, with high streets on Friday and Saturday nights thronged with drunken youths vomiting on each others' shoes and congesting emergency rooms after impaling themselves on iron railings.
Columnists and community leaders repeatedly lament that the UK does not have the "cafe culture" continental Europe has.
But according to fresh European Commission data, "Binge Britain" may be less accurate a term than "Binge Romania," with four countries, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Romania all showing a higher proportion of their citizens regularly drinking more than five drinks – the definition of a night of bingeing.
Spain and Greece, both more cafe-driven than pub-ridden, also scored a high drinking echelon.
"Frequent binge drinking is not confined to any particular region within the EU," reports a survey of 27,000 individuals carried out last October and published on Wednesday by Eurobarometer, the bloc's polling service.
However, Ireland, which also suffers from a similar reputation to that of Britain, does seem to merit such status, according to the EU data.
In the end, the highest percentages of frequent binge drinking are found in Ireland, on 44 percent, followed by Romania 39 percent, Germany and Austria both 36 percent.
And while not at the top of the boozing league tables, the UK rate is still quite high on 34 percent, where it is joined by Spain and Greece, all on 34 percent.
At the same time, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain have all seen a decrease in the percentage of those who have five or more drinks at least once a week
But in the sunny climes of Cyprus, Greece, and Portugal, with their cafes and terraces, the rate of bingeing has increased. Lithuania, somewhat less warm, has also seen an uptick.
Furthermore, the survey found that the economic crisis has proven to have only a minor influence on the rate of binge drinking, with only a slight overall increase from 15 percent to 17 percent saying that they drank five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting once a week.
On the other hand, there has also been a rise in the percentage reporting they never do this, from 31 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2009.
In total, roughly one in three EU citizens – 29 percent – have binge drunk at least once in the last 30 days.