Thursday

19th Sep 2019

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

  • No more extra sunshine? - Southern member states would like to keep summertime (Photo: Anja)

EU countries should scrap twice-yearly time changes, the European Commission will propose in upcoming legislation, after a public consultation in which a record number of Europeans participated.

The commission on Friday (31 August) unveiled the results of the survey, closed two weeks ago, on changing the clock in March and October to adjust from wintertime to summertime.

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A record 4.6m people participated in the online exercise and 84 percent were of the view that summertime should be used all the time in future.

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF ahead of the publication of the results: "People want this, we're doing this".

The commission will soon put forward a legal proposal on which the European Parliament (EP) and the member states in the council will have to decide.

One earlier EP resolution already supported getting rid of summertime.

The EU executive is moving forward based on the preliminary result of the public consultation despite having said before that the online survey is not a referendum and it has not yet finished analysing the replies.

The commission pushed forward with the proposal in an effort to show ahead of European elections next spring that the EU executive is not detached from European people and wanted to give options to member states.

"You say since the participation is not identical across the EU it shouldn't be taken into account. There we disagree," a commission spokesperson told journalists on Friday, adding: "We do care about this when people speak, we do care about it."

However, according to the numbers, mostly Germans participated in the survey, which raises questions if the consultation does represent what most EU citizens want.

The commission's preliminary results show that out of 83m germans, 3.79 percent replied, while in Italy, a country of 60m, only 0.04 percent took part.

In Germany, 84 percent of respondents favoured switching to one time, while in Italy, only 56 percent supported scrapping the twice annual change.

The commission will propose to do away with the time change and, if the bill goes through, EU countries would no longer be required to alter the clock twice a year. But it will be up to them how they harmonise their times. It is not yet clear when the commission will officially put forward he legal text.

The three different time zones separating EU member states will remain.

Finland and Estonia have asked the commission to look into staying on wintertime for the whole year.

Critics say the switch to summertime can cause long-term health problems, while it does not lead to significant savings in energy.

The time change disrupts sleep schedules and can impact productivity at work.

Supporters of the switch argue the extra morning daylight in winter and evening light in summer can help reduce traffic accidents and save energy.

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