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The Sun is Setting on DST in the EU

The clock is ticking on Daylight Saving Time (DST) as the European Parliament takes formal steps to end the seasonal time change permanently.

European Parliament building at sunset. Brussels, Belgium.

The Sun is setting on DST in the European Union. European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium.


Setting the clocks for Daylight Saving Time (DST) is on its way to becoming history for EU Member States and affiliated countries.

Plans to Scrap the Clock Change

On March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted in favor of backing the EU Committee draft directive to stop the one-hour clock change in the European Union, the European Parliament Press Room reports. 410 members voted in favor of the draft, 192 were against, and 51 members abstained from voting.

The vote is another formal step towards a permanent elimination of DST in the EU. The proposal will form the basis of discussions between the EU Ministers to produce a final law repealing Directive 2000/84/EC, the EU's existing DST legislation, also known as the Summer Time Directive.

DST Removal Not Likely in 2021

It was initially planned that DST would be removed in 2021, however the likelihood of the EU abolishing DST in 2021 is very slim. In 2020, Europe, like the rest of the world, has been busy handling the health and economic effects of Covid-19.

Negotiations have not yet started in the European Council, making it very unlikely for the new rules—even if agreed rapidly—to apply in 2021.

Countries Decide Their Time

Under the draft directive, each Member State will decide whether to remain permanently on “summer time” or to change their clocks back one final time to permanent standard time, also known as “winter time.”

Opponents are worried that this could lead to a patchwork of time zones across Europe. This could cause a fragmentation of the European market, destabilizing the union at a time when the integrity of its single market is in question.

When Will DST Stop in Europe?

According to the initial draft, countries that decide to stay on permanent DST were to make their final clock change on March 28, 2021 without changing their clocks back to standard time on October 31, 2021. In contrast, the countries that decide to remain on standard time all year were to set their clocks forward one hour for DST on March 28, 2021 and then back again for the final time on October 31, 2021.

However, as mentioned above, it is now very unlikely that this schedule will be observed. A new date will probably be set once the European Council resumes its discussions on the directive.

Possibly Two Time Zones under Brexit

Brexit, the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, is also causing a bit of a hiccup regarding the DST debate.

Worst case, the island of Ireland could end up with two time zones, Northern Ireland following the time the UK decides to use and the Republic of Ireland, an EU Member State, observing another time zone. However, both the UK and Ireland have vowed to oppose the EU's proposal to abolish the seasonal clock changes.

History of DST in the EU

The EU first synchronized its Daylight Saving Time schedule in 1980 to ensure continuously stable time offsets across the single market.

Currently, DST in Europe runs from 01:00 UTC on the last Sunday of March to 01:00 UTC on the last Sunday of October every year.

It includes all countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), except Iceland. Switzerland follows the same schedule, although the country is not part of the EEA.

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Topics: Time Zone, Daylight Saving Time