Daylight saving ends in Europe, in what could be the last time the continent turns back the clocks
A survey found 84 per cent were in favour of the daylight saving time change being abolished. (Reuters: Charles Platiau)
Daylight saving time will end around Europe on Sunday, in what could be the last time the clocks go back an hour on the continent.
- European Council recommended member states stop changing clocks in spring and autumn
- Survey shows most Europeans want the time change abolished
- A clear majority want “permanent summertime” to be imposed
For the past 16 years the summertime change has been regulated by the European Union (EU) directive 2000/84/EC, which states the switchover dates are the last weekend of March and the last weekend of October.
But last August, the European Council recommended EU member states stop changing the clocks in spring and autumn and use summertime for the whole year.
It came after 4.6 million people from EU countries replied to a public consultation on the summertime arrangement, with 84 per cent of those wanting the time change to be abolished.
The clear majority of those people would prefer “permanent summertime”, while 36 per cent were in favour of “permanent standard time”.
“We carried out a survey, millions responded and believe that in future, summertime should be year-round, and that’s what will happen,” EU president Jean-Claude Juncker told the German broadcaster ZDF in August.
“I will recommend to the commission that, if you ask the citizens, then you have to do what the citizens say.
“We will decide on this today, and then it will be the turn of the member states and the European Parliament.”
The measure still needs to be approved by the European Parliament, and member states would then have the choice to opt out of the time change.
Currently there are three time zones in the EU: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is used by the UK, Ireland and Portugal; Central Europe Time (CET), which 17 EU member states use and is an hour ahead of GMT; and Eastern European time, which is used in eight states and is two hours ahead of GMT.
Debate over daylight saving drawbacks and benefits
There has been conjecture over the benefits and drawbacks of daylight saving time, with those in favour arguing that having synchronised clocks across the EU saves energy and allows the single market to function better.
Critics say the time changes upset sleep patterns and can have negative health effects.
Another issue that could arise is the possibility the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would be in two different time zones after the UK exits the European Union in March next year.
The Republic would have to chose between having a time-zone border with the north if it opts out of daylight saving time, or keeping it and being in a different time zone to fellow EU countries.
The UK currently has British Summer Time (GMT+1) that has been in place since 1916, when it was introduced during World War I to conserve coal.
In 2011 the British Government proposed a three-year trial of a move to CET — GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in summer — with the idea that lighter evenings would reduce traffic accidents.
But the plan was discarded after it drew opposition from Scotland and the north of England, where it would have meant some areas would not have seen daylight until 10am during winter.