Before the imminent shift of clock hands to daylight saving time, a group of European parliamentarians sent a call to the European Commission to ensure the abolition of the clock movement, which was also requested by European citizens in a public consultation.
A group of 44 MEPs from various political groups, including a Slovenian MEP Matjaž Nemec (S&D/SD), this week called on the commission to prepare an impact assessment of the abolition of clock movement. This would enable the continuation of the negotiations of the Council of the EU, i.e. the member states, on this proposal, they emphasized.
In fact, in 2019, the European Commission proposed the abolition of the clock movement as early as 2021, leaving the decision on which time to apply to the member states. However, due to the disagreements between the countries on whether they want to implement winter or summer time, the proposal is stuck in the Council of the EU.
In 2018, Brussels’ proposal to end the clock movement triggered a public consultation at the EU level, in which 4.6 million European citizens participated, and 84 percent of the participants supported the end of the clock movement.
In December 2019, the Council of the EU made further negotiations on the commission’s proposal conditional on an EU-level impact assessment, which the commission has still not prepared, MEPs warned in the initiative. In a letter addressed to the president of the commission Ursula von der Leyen and the European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, called on the commission to help ensure that the proposals of European citizens are heard.
The German emphasized that the European Commission should not ignore the increasingly loud calls of European citizens. He also expressed the expectation that the initiative of the group of deputies will not remain in the drawers and that the agreement could be adopted even before the clocks move to winter time in the fall.
“This issue, which may not be of vital importance for solving the key challenges of the Union, but in addition to its primary goal – an end to all inconveniences and confusions caused by clock changes, also exposes a larger problem, that is, addressing and solving problems that come directly from wishes, demands and the will of the people,” he warned at the same time.
Daylight saving time since 1980
Daylight saving time has been in effect in the EU since 1980, and it was introduced to save energy. EU members are otherwise classified into three different time zones. Western European time applies to Ireland and Portugal, Central European time applies to 17 members of the Union, including Slovenia, and Eastern European time applies to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.
Following Brussels’ proposal for the abolition of clock movement, the Slovenian government announced that it supports the abolition of clock movement in principle. In Slovenia, according to the explanations of the Ministry of Infrastructure at the time, standard winter time would apply. On the other hand, the public consultation showed that the citizens of Slovenia are more in favor of summer time.
The majority of citizens of Portugal, Cyprus and Poland also voted for summer time, and in Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands for winter time. The Croatian government also warmed to the introduction of permanent daylight saving time due to its positive effects on tourism.
With this, potential confusion began to emerge, when, for example, Austria would have summer time, Slovenia winter time, and Croatia again summer time. Talks at the EU Council stalled at the end of 2019, and the discussions were overshadowed by other pressing issues that the EU was and is facing.
It seems that we will be moving the clock for at least the next few years, as the European Commission has published the daylight saving time schedule for the period up to 2026 in the Official Journal of the EU.