The European Union Commission has recommended abandoning the practice of adjusting clocks by one hour every spring and fall, in response to polls suggesting that most people dislike it. Given the complicated nature by which the EU makes decisions, there is a long way to go before this could take place, if at all. But it is a step.
In a consultation paper it said one option would be to let each member state decide whether to go for permanent summer or winter time. That would be “a sovereign decision of each member state”, Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein explained on Friday.
He stressed that the proposal was “to no longer constrain member states into changing clocks twice per year”.
The EU made the spring/autumn clock change the rule in all member states in 1996, based on the argument that it would reduce energy costs. But the Commission says the data on energy-saving is inconclusive.
There is also no reliable evidence that the clock changes reduce traffic accidents, the Commission says.
There are three standard time zones:
- Three states apply GMT (the UK, Ireland and Portugal)
- 17 have Central European Time, which is GMT+1
- Eight have Eastern European Time, which is GMT+2
The current seasonal clock changes are controversial partly because there is a big difference in daylight hours experienced by Scandinavia and by southern Europe.
Nordic countries have long, dark nights in winter and short nights in summer. The pattern in the south is more even across the seasons.
There are anomalies too. For example, neighbours Portugal and Spain are in different time zones, as are Sweden and Finland.
There will be a lot of opposition in the US to abandoning it because the recreation industry, especially golf, benefits from the long summer evenings. And we know that many if not most of the movers and shakers in politics and business are golfers.