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Editorial - The end of daylight saving time in Europe?

Editorial The end of daylight saving time in Europe?

Debate rages over the possibility of daylight saving time being abolished in the European Union.

I’m surprised to be talking about time zones again for the second time this year (the first time was here), but such are the sensitivities surrounding Brexit, and in particular the thorny issue of what happens on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, that an issue like the abolition of daylight savings time throughout Europe inevitably ends up being used in the increasingly bitter feud about Britain’s exit from the European Union.

In this particular case, the proposal is for a Directive to discontinue seasonal changes of time across the European Union. The European Commission conducted a survey to ask the opinion of the entire population of the European Union and received a response from 4.6 million people, which is the biggest response ever received in any public consultation by the European Commission. Although the responses should be taken with a pinch of salt (70% of them came from Germany and, unsurprisingly the United Kingdom had the lowest response rate out of all 28 member states, with well below 0.25% of the population expressing an opinion), there was a clear preference to stop putting the clocks forward or back twice a year. Some 76% of respondents said they had a negative or very negative experience of the time change and 84% were in favour of abolishing it. 

Despite the high approval rates, some fear this could lead to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland having two different times in the unlikely event that the UK does not align its legislation with that of the EU once it has left. Yet the same situation already exists between Portugal (UTC + 0) and its only neighbour Spain (UTC +1), as well as Sweden (UTC +1) and Finland (UTC +2). The big difference is that populations in these countries havebeen getting along peacefully for a long time. The situation on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, on the other hand, has only been stable since the Good Friday Agreement of 1996. Enterprising watch brands could help to avoid any confusion by promoting their dual time watches on the Emerald Isle.