EU outlines plans to end daylight savings

Written by Martin Banks on 14 September 2018 in News

The Commission has spelled out why it is proposing to end daylight savings.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The executive published details of the proposed change at a news conference in Brussels on Friday.

The proposal is “to no longer constrain member states into changing clocks twice per year”.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said millions “believe that in future, summer time should be year-round, and that’s what will happen.

“Clock-changing must stop. Member states should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer or winter time. It is a question of subsidiarity. I expect the Parliament and Council will share this view and find solutions that work for our internal market. We are out of time.”

Two European commissioners, Vice-President  Maros Sefcovic  and Violeta Bulc, said that after a massive consultation exercise most people appeared opposed to the twice yearly seasonal clock changes.

Bulc told reporters the Commission has proposed to end seasonal clock changes in Europe by October 2019, giving member states the freedom to decide whether they want to permanently apply summer or winter time.

It is believed most southern European countries will opt for round the year summer time, while the majority of northern member states will choose winter time.

She said that while efforts will be made to ensure there is “coordinated action” between neighbouring member states it was still possible that, for example, the Netherlands could opt for summer time while its neighbour, Belgium, could choose winter time to apply after next October.

A European Parliament resolution says it is “crucial to maintain a unified EU time regime.”

Bulc said, “The end of October 2019 will be the last time when we will change the clocks but, let’s be very clear, while we are doing this together it is still a member state decision to decide which times they choose to go for. This part of it remains a member state competence but, by April 2019, member states need to state which they want to keep.”

She added, “This is not a decision that we have taken overnight. It is the most frequently asked topic I have been asked about by MEPs since I became a Commissioner and it is fair to say there are lots of arguments from those who want to keep the current system and those who want change.”

She said, “We should remind ourselves why it was introduced in the first place. The clock change came in during World War I to save coal for the war and was still in place in World War II.

“In the 1970s we had the oil crisis but all the energy related reasons for changing the clocks are no longer valid and, from our consultations, it is clear that citizens want this change.”

She said that the response to the consultation done by the Commission was 10 times bigger than for any similar exercise it had undertaken resulting in an overwhelming majority in favour.

She said Portugal, Cyprus and Poland were among those saying they favoured permanent summer time while Finland was among those wanting permanent winter time.

When questioned, the transport Commissioner said the change would also bring economic benefits although she could not quantify these.

Her comments were echoed by Sefcovic who also said that the original purpose of the annual clock change, saving energy, “does not exist anymore.”

He told the news conference that some 84 per cent of those consulted favoured abolishing clock change.

He said, “One of the reasons are the health issues caused by keep changing the clocks twice each year. It is something that affects our everyday lives and we now have better solutions for saving energy so the original reasons for it no longer apply.”

Despite concerns in some quarters he said he believes the change will be done “in a smart and coordinated way.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine


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