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EU to stop changing the clocks in 2019

September 14, 2018

The EU is doing away with the twice-yearly clock changes and has given member states until April to decide if they will remain on summer or winter time. But there are fears Europe is heading for time-zone chaos.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker checks his watch
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/V. Mayo

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc on Friday announced that the EU will stop the twice-yearly changing of clocks across the continent in October 2019.

The practice, which was used as a means to conserve energy during the World Wars as well as the oil crises of the 1970s, became law across the bloc in 1996.

All EU countries are required to move forward by an hour on the last Sunday of March and back by an hour on the final Sunday in October.

Bulc said EU member states would have until April 2019 to decide whether they would permanently remain on summer or winter time. 

Read more: Summertime: What a joke!

What time is it in Brussels?

Bulc said she was counting on member states and the European Parliament to keep pace with the Commission's "ambitious" schedule. She also noted the need to find consensus among the member states in order to avoid confusing time jumps.

The plan also raises the prospect of neighboring countries ending up an hour apart.

"In order to maintain a harmonised approach we are encouraging consultations at national levels to ensure a coordinated approach of all member states," Bulc said.

The decision to tackle the issue was prompted after the Commission launched an online survey. Some 4.6 million Europeans answered the survey — three million of those respondents were from Germany — with 80 percent of them voting to scrap the practice.

Though critics say that is only a small percentage of the bloc's population, the European Commission argues it is doing what voters expect of it: dealing with big issues.

Health problems and little savings

Those who oppose daylight savings say that it has become obsolete thanks to other more efficient energy-saving technologies such as LED lights. "We are clearly headed toward smart cities, smart buildings and smart solutions which will bring much more savings than changes of the clock," said Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.

Critics have also cited long-term health problems, sleep-related issues and the reduced concentration that often accompanies the twice-yearly change. Proponents of daylight savings have long argued that it benefits public safety as well as saving energy.

Time zones in EU

Merkel is a fan

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in favor of the move, telling German public broadcaster ZDF: "The people want it, so we will do it." And German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently spoke on the topic during a trip to Nigeria, saying: "I personally think it's a very high priority."

js/rt (dpa, Reuters) 

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