I hope you remembered to put your clocks forward last night if you’re in Europe, otherwise you’ll be a bit behind everyone else. We posted reminders throughout the house so that we wouldn’t forget, but there’s always at least one clock that slips through the net. However, in 2021, we will change the hour for the last time.
The EU Parliament voted recently to end the twice-yearly hour change. Prior to their vote, EU citizens were invited to give their views on whether to end it, in an advisory poll (note the word advisory; does this ring any bells?). Around 2 million French people took part in the poll and nearly 84% said they would prefer to end the hour-changing system.
Member states will now be allowed to choose whether they stay on wintertime, in which case their last change will be October 2021, or on summertime, from the end of March 2021.
I quite like the idea of sticking with summertime (i.e. GMT+2 in France) all year round. It means it would stay lighter in the evenings, which I prefer. Conversely, it would be darker in the mornings. That’s okay for me, since I don’t have to get up to go to work, but for people who do, it may not be so agreeable.
The change from summertime to wintertime and back was originally introduced as an energy-saving measure. However, opponents of the time changes say that they have harmful effects on people’s health and on road safety and energy savings have been negligible.
Objections to the new system include the potential difficulties that might arise from adjacent states choosing different hours. Of course, we’ve lived with different time zones in Europe for some time: for example, Portugal is on the same time zone as the UK, but Spain next door is on Central European Time, i.e. an hour ahead. Even so, it would get confusing if there were a hodgepodge of different hours. During World War II, the time zones were different in the French Occupied and Unoccupied Zones, causing immense problems with railway timetabling, for example.
Apparently, the EU may “encourage” adjacent states to adhere to the same time zone to avoid problems. But you can imagine what kind of protracted wrangles this could lead to. And how are individual states going to decide whether to adopt permanent summertime or wintertime?
So, is this an example of the EU fiddling around with something that didn’t need fixing or is it a real issue? And what would you vote for keeping: wintertime or summertime?
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