Change of time in the EU: Why the Commission insists and what will happen

103242956 gettyimages 1025458362 European Union, Europe

The debate on changing the time in the EU is becoming more and more open. On the occasion of his speech on the state of the Union, President Jean-Claude Juncker said:

"Always in our nice speeches we declare that we want to be big in big issues and small in small. But no one applauds us when, under EU law, citizens are required to change the clock twice a year. The Commission is now proposing to change this situation. The time change must be removed. It is up to the Member States themselves to decide whether their citizens will live in summer or winter time. It is a matter of subsidiarity. I hope that Parliament and the Council will share this view and find the right solutions for our internal market. Time is pressing us."

Today, the European Commission is proposing to abolish seasonal time changes in Europe in 2019, giving Member States the opportunity to decide once and for all whether they wish to apply permanent summer or winter time. The legislative proposal seeks to ensure that any changes take place in a coordinated manner between neighboring countries, in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market and to avoid fragmentation, which could occur if some Member States maintain seasonal changes while stop.

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulltz said:

"We propose to abolish the seasonal change of time from next year. This highly ambitious timetable will allow citizens to reap the benefits without delay. We now call on Member States and businesses to make the necessary preparations to ensure a coordinated approach across the EU. "

The Commission proposal:

  • Eliminates seasonal changes of time throughout the European Union;
  • Establishes a clear and concise timetable for change;
  • Encourages consultation at national and European level in order to ensure a coordinated approach between Member States.

How and when the changes will take effect

The European Commission proposal will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for agreement.

To enable a smooth transition, according to the Commission proposal, each Member State will notify by April 2019 whether it intends to apply summer or winter time permanently. The last mandatory change of daylight saving time will take place on Sunday 31 March 2019. Thereafter, Member States wishing to return permanently to winter time will still be able to make one last seasonal change of time on Sunday 27 October 2019. After on this date, seasonal time changes will no longer be possible.

This timetable depends on whether the European Parliament and the Council approve the Commission proposal by March 2019 at the latest.

Why the Commission is proposing this change

European countries have introduced summer-time regulation for energy savings in the last century, especially in times of war or the oil crisis of the 1970s. Beginning in 1980, the European Union gradually adopted legislation of their national time changes. In 2018, however, the purpose of the time changes became much less appropriate, as studies show that energy savings are now marginal and citizens are increasingly complaining about the negative effects on health.

Changes in time have indeed been repeatedly challenged by citizens, by the European Parliament and by a growing number of Member States. Based on the request of the European Parliament and in the context of the evaluation of the current regime, the Commission held a public consultation in the summer of 2018 and received 4,6 million responses, which is the highest number of responses received in a public consultation organized by the European Commission . 84% of respondents were in favor of abolishing seasonal time changes.

On this basis, the European Commission has concluded that there is no reason for Brussels to continue to adjust to seasonal changes of time and that Member States should be free to decide whether they wish to live in summer or winter. time and handle the matter nationally, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.