Juncker: European Commission will propose scrapping daylight savings time

Written by on August 31, 2018 in Europe - Comments Off on Juncker: European Commission will propose scrapping daylight savings time

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on August 31 that the Commission would comply with the findings of a survey and propose scrapping the twice-yearly time changes in the EU.

“Millions of citizens said they don’t want keep changing the clocks anymore. @EU_Commission will do what they say,” a Commission spokeperson quoted Juncker as saying in a Twitter message.

On August 31, the Commisssion published the preliminary results of the public consultation on clock change in Europe.

The online consultation, which ran from July 4 to August 16 2018, received 4.6 million responses from all 28 EU member countries, the highest number of responses ever received in any Commission public consultation.

According to the preliminary results, 84 per cent of respondents are in favour of putting an end to the bi-annual clock change.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc presented these preliminary results to the College of Commissioners that held a first discussion on the next steps.

Bulc said: “Millions of Europeans used our public consultation to make their voices heard. The message is very clear: 84 per cent of them do not want the clocks to change anymore.

“We will now act accordingly and prepare a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and the Council, who will then decide together.”

The final results of the public consultation will be published in the coming weeks.

The Commission will now make a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council with a view of changing the current clock change arrangements, the Commission’s statement said.

When it announced the public consultation, the Commission said that summertime arrangements in the EU require that the clocks are changed twice per year in order to cater for the changing patterns of daylight and to take advantage of the available daylight in a given period.

The majority of the EU Member States have a long tradition of summertime arrangements, most of which date back as far as the First and Second World Wars or to the oil crisis in the 1970s. At the time, summertime arrangements were mainly designed to save energy.

However, there have also been other motivations, such as road safety, increasing leisure opportunities stemming from longer daylight during evenings or simply to align national practices to those of neighbours or main trading partners.

At the time, the Commission noted points on the effects of daylight savings time.

  • Internal market: At this juncture, evidence is only conclusive on one point: that allowing uncoordinated time changes between Member States would be detrimental to the internal market due to higher costs to cross-border trade, inconveniences in transport, communications and travel, and lower productivity in the internal market for goods and services.

  • Energy: Despite having been one of the main drivers of the current arrangements, research indicates that the overall energy savings effect of summertime is marginal. Results also tend to vary depending on factors such as geographical location.

  • Health: Summertime arrangements are estimated to generate positive effects linked to more outdoor leisure activities. On the other hand, chronobiologic research findings suggest that the effect on the human biorhythm may be more severe than previously thought. The evidence on overall health impacts (i.e. the balance of the assumed positive versus negative effects) remains inconclusive.

  • Road safety: Evidence remains inconclusive with regard to the relationship between summertime arrangements and road traffic accidents. In principle, sleep deprivation from advancing the clock in spring could increase the risk of accidents. At the same time, extended daylight hours during summer evenings are considered to have a positive effect on road safety. However, it is generally difficult to attribute directly the effect of summertime arrangements on accident rates compared to other factors.

  • Agriculture: Previous concerns regarding disrupted biorhythm of animals and changing milking schedules due to the time switch appear to have largely disappeared due to the deployment of new equipment, artificial lighting and automated technologies. An extra daylight-hour during summer can also be an advantage allowing extended working hours for outdoor activities, such as working in fields and harvesting.

The Commission said that it regularly receives feedback from citizens on the summertime issue, which often refer to what they perceive as negative health impacts of the disruptive time change relating to sleep deprivation and other kinds of negative consequences. However, some also ask that the current system be maintained, as they believe it has positive effects.

(Photo: flickr.com/photos/arjanrichter/)

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