Age limit for beer and wine to stay at 16

The Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) has chosen to ignore advice from the High Council for Health and to allow wine and beer to continue to be sold to minors between the ages 16 and 18. Ms De Block says that “Completely banning alcohol for those under 18 would make youngsters drink on the sly”.

Nevertheless, the rules have been tightened for youngsters between the ages of 16 and 18. In future beer that is flavoured with spirits may no longer be sold to minors  the same is the case for fortified wines and aperitif drinks such as Campari and Martini.

Both the addiction helpline DrugLijn and the Flemish Christian democrats say that this is a “missed opportunity”.

Earlier this year, the High Council for Health advised the Health Minister to make changes to the law so as to ban the sale of all alcoholic drinks to young people between the ages of 16 and 18. The Council issued its advice as young men especially run the risk of becoming problem drinkers. Furthermore, statistics show that binge drinking among young people has increased in recent years.  

However, the Health Minister has come up with her own measures.

  • Those who are 16 or 17 may drink alcohol, albeit only beer, wine or sparkling wine. 
  • All other alcoholic drinks are banned for those under 18.