There’s a movement afoot in Belgium to stop the longstanding practice of serving free beer and wine in parliament. But the leadership said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Nah.”
The ethics committee in Belgium asked speaker of the parliament Siegfried Bracke to reconsider the free beer and wine policy because “some MPs tend to become quite unpleasant if they have been drinking,” the ethics committee chair said, according to Politico. An investigation noted that removing free alcohol would “improve the quality of debate.”
So Bracke went out and talked to party leaders. But he found that a problem with free alcohol is “non-existent,” so the free beer shall continue to flow. Apparently Belgian’s ethics committee has just as hard a time being taken seriously as the United States ethics committee.
It would be a hard break from tradition if the ethics committee were to get its way in Belgium. Members of Belgian Parliament have been getting free drinks since the 1990s, after the governing body realized they needed to find a way to keep members of parliament from walking out in the middle of regularly scheduled meetings to grab a drink. Free beer and wine was, naturally, the obvious answer.
You can imagine the chaos if a country like the U.S. tried to offer free beer and wine to both houses of government, despite the people’s love of electing someone they would want to have a beer with. Congressmen wouldn’t have to worry about passing a filibuster bill anymore, because frequent bathroom breaks would end 13-hour talks. And already heated fights between both sides of the aisle would probably get more intense. Sure, members of either party might bond over a drink, but people probably wouldn’t approve of a free government handout to the government itself.
Can you really blame the Belgians for keeping free beer though? The country has a strong beer history, beer by the case vending machines, and an underground beer pipeline. Members of parliament have to be of Belgian nationality. You know, just in case a friend was wondering.