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Juncker: EU Will Scrap Clock Changes

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Published 31-Aug-2018. Changed 23-Nov-2018

Last Clock Change Might Be in 2019

On September 12, 2018, the European Commission issued a draft directive which proposes a set of rules for the abolishment of seasonal clock changes in the European Union.

If approved, the last EU-wide clock change would be on Sunday, March 31, 2019. Each member state would then have the chance to decide if they stay on “summer time” (DST) year-round or change their clocks once more on Sunday, October 27, 2019 to observe permanent standard time in subsequent years.

It remains to be seen if the EU will indeed be able to implement this schedule. Several EU member states have already signaled their disapproval, criticizing the plan as too ambitious. As politico.eu reports, “Austria’s Transport Minister Norbert Hofer said the plan to scrap the time change in 2019 would not be supported by enough countries, and that at least 18 months is needed to prepare for a reform affecting everything from cow milking routines to the scheduling of trains and flights.”

The European Union (EU) will stop changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time (DST) each year, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledges.

Illustration image

German cuckoo clock.

This traditional German cuckoo clock is one of the millions of European clocks that have to be adjusted for DST twice each year.

©iStockphoto.com/lowkick

EU Citizens Want to Remove DST

“It would be pointless to ask for people's opinions and not act on it if you don't agree with them,” Juncker said in an interview with the German TV network ZDF.

In a Europe-wide public survey, the EU's population recently displayed overwhelming support for the idea to get rid of seasonal clock changes. The poll drew a total of 4.6 million respondents, over 80% of whom were in favor of abolishing DST.

“The people want it,” Juncker added, “so we will do it.”

Scrapping Clock Change Will Take Time

As President of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, Juncker wields considerable power to effect legislative change. However, despite his pledge to decide on the issue “today,” as he said on Friday, August 31, 2018, the push to abolish DST in the countries of the European Union has a lengthy path ahead.

First, the Commission will have to approve the step and submit a bill. Then, it will have to clear the EU Parliament, and finally, it will have to be approved by all of the EU's 28 member states.

Even when a law to scrap DST has been established, it will likely take some time until it is actually implemented. Updating all systems affected by the change all across Europe is a huge task, and legislators will probably be mindful of that, allowing ample time for the technical implementation.

DST in Europe

Clock changes in Europe are centrally governed by EU law. DST starts on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October. Participating countries are:

European Countries Without DST

Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Iceland, Russia, and Turkey don't use DST but remain on standard time all year.

In 2016, Turkey decided to end DST permanently. The Turkish occupied territory of Northern Cyprus still follows the rest of Cyprus and changes the clocks in accordance with the EU's DST regulations.

Local Times in Europe for DST Start

Time Zone During DSTDST StartsStandard Time Zone (no DST)

British Summer Time (BST), used in the UK during summer.

UTC offset: +1 hour

DST starts at 01:00 (1 am) local time.
Clocks are set ahead 1 hour to 02:00 (2 am).

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

UTC offset: None

Irish Standard Time (IST), used in Ireland during the summer.

UTC offset: +1 hour

DST starts at 01:00 (1 am) local time.
Clocks are set ahead 1 hour to 02:00 (2 am).

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

UTC offset: None

Western European Summer Time (WEST), used in the Canary Islands, the Faroe Islands, and Portugal.

UTC offset: +1 hour

DST starts at 01:00 (1 am) local time. Clocks are set ahead 1 hour to 02:00 (2 am).

Western European Time (WET)

UTC offset: None

Central European Summer Time (CEST), used in countries including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.

UTC offset: +2 hours

DST starts at 02:00 (2 am) local time, when clocks are set ahead 1 hour to 03:00 (3 am).

Central European Time (CET)

UTC offset: +1 hour

Eastern European Summer Time (EEST), used in countries including Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania.

UTC offset: +3 hours

DST starts at 03:00 (3 am) local time, when clocks are set ahead 1 hour to 04:00 (4 am).

Eastern European Time (EET)

UTC offset: +2 hours


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