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It's once again an election issue, but Britain's reputation for binge drinking may be undeserved compared to some of its European neighbours, according to a shock official report.

Ireland, Romania, Germany and Austria all have a higher rate of binge drinking than the UK, a European Commission survey has found.

Some 34 per cent of Brits reported having five or more drinks in one sitting - the report's definition of a binge - at least once a week. Spain and Greece reported the same rate of binging.

The Irish topped the table by some distance, with 44 per cent regularly binge drinking. Romanians swayed into second with 39 per cent. Germany and Austria both registered 36 per cent.

The survey found that the recession has accompanied a small increase in binge drinking, with a rise in the EU average rate of once a week binging from 15 per cent in 2006 to 17 per cent in 2009. However the numbers claiming they never binge also rose.

On average a much higher proportion of European men (36 per cent) are frequent binge drinkers than women (19 per cent).

The full report on EU Citizens' attitudes to alcohol is here. ®

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