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Europe Embarks on Daylight Saving Schedule 2008

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Published 27-Mar-2008. Changed 29-Mar-2008

European Union Flag

Many countries in Europe follow the European Union's Daylight Saving Time Directive. Illustration Photo

©iStockphoto.com/bkindler

Most of Europe will embark on daylight saving time, also known as “Summer Time”, on March 30, 2008. Most European countries will push time forward by one hour for daylight saving time in their fixed time zones on this date. For Western Europe, including United Kingdom, clocks are moved from 1am to 2am. In Central Europe, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy, clocks are moved from 2am to 3am. Eastern Europe's clocks move from 3am to 4am. Daylight saving time applies to all European Union (EU) countries, including Denmark’s self-governing province of Greenland, as well as parts of Russia, including Moscow and St Petersburg.

Iceland, however, does not observe daylight saving time. Iceland’s time is easy to calculate because it is identical to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), therefore there is no offset.  Daylight saving time is also referred to as “Summer Time” in some European countries.

Interesting Facts

Russia and Belarus observe daylight saving time and make the change forward and back on the same dates as the European Union, respectively, on the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. However, the changeover on both dates occurs in Russia not at 1am UTC as in the rest of Europe, but at 2am local time in each time zone. Russia's clocks are two hours ahead of local mean solar time (or the time according to the sun) in the summer and one hour ahead of standard time in the winter. In 2007, local politicians in the Kemerovo Region called for the government to abolish the daylight time saving regime in Russia, due to health reasons. However, the nation still maintains its daylight saving schedule.

According to the French Tourist Office, French time moves from UTC+1 to UTC+2 during the summer period, following the EU’s daylight saving schedule. However, parts of France and Spain skew time zones and shift clocks, in effect observing daylight saving time in winter with an extra hour in summer.

In Norway, daylight saving time has been introduced, discontinued and reintroduced quite a few times during the 20th century. When daylight saving was reintroduced in Norway during the late 1950s and early 1960s, controversy erupted. In 1965, the Norwegian parliament discontinued the daylight saving arrangement. However, it was re-introduced in 1980 and Norway follows the EU’s daylight saving schedule.

On another note, prior to daylight saving time being re-introduced in Sweden on April 6, 1980, a major Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, published an April Fool's joke on April 1 that year. According to the joke, daylight saving time was already introduced almost in secret with nearly no public information, causing chaos with timing and transportation. In reality, this did not happen.

Time Zones

There are four major different time zones across Europe:

  • Western European Time (WET), observed in Portugal, Faroe Islands and the Canary Islands and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is in the same time zone and observed in Iceland, Ireland and United Kingdom;
  • Central Europe Time (CET), observed in countries including Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark (mainland), France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Repulic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (mainland), Sweden and Switzerland;
  • Eastern European Time (EET), observed in countries including Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Kaliningrad(Russia), Turkey, Ukraine.
  • And finally, most of the European part of Russia is in the Moscow time zone, Moscow Standard Time (MSK).

During summer daylight saving time/summer time, Western European Summer Time (WEST) is used instead of WET, Central European Summer Time (CEST) is used instead of CET, Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) is used instead of EET and Moscow Daylight Time (MSD) is used instead of MSK.

In the United Kingdom local time during daylight saving time is known as British Summer Time (BST), in Ireland as Irish Summer Time (IST). BST is used during the summer only in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  During the winter period, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also known as UTC, is used in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Brief Daylight Saving History

Daylight saving time was used in some countries, such as Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, during World War I. Many countries abandoned daylight saving time after the war, but over the years it has re-emerged within Europe.  By the early 1980s, many countries of the European Union were already using daylight saving time, but they had different practices, thus impeding transport schedules and communications within the continent.

In 1996 the European Union (EU) standardized an EU-wide daylight saving time for consistency to apply across Europe. The EU daylight saving schedule runs from the last Sunday in March through the last Sunday in October. In 2000, an EU directive was issued on daylight saving arrangements. In the directive, it was mentioned that summer-time arrangements maintained for the past 20 years would be renewed for an unspecified period. It also noted that the last Sundays in March and October would be the dates definitively adopted for the daylight saving schedule among EU countries.

Daylight saving time across Europe will end on October 26 2008 when clocks are set back one hour.

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