The EU could soon abolish UK daylight saving time
Twice a year, every year, I inevitably get a little confused about whether I’m gaining time and losing sleep or vice versa as the clocks change.
And clearly I’m not the only one who finds the idea of ‘summer time’ a little jarring, because the European parliament recently voted to keep the same time all year round. No changes will be implemented until the European Commission makes the appropriate recommendations, but with MEPs 384 votes in favour compared to 153 against, the pressure is mounting on it to do so.
Last October, the European parliament published a report looking at current EU summer-time arrangements, which highlighted that the health impacts of the clock change might be more severe than first thought.
“Contrary to previous assumptions, according to which the transition phase would last only a few days, newer research suggests that it may take certain chronotypes of people several weeks to adjust; some appear not to adapt at all. The effect of the fall back in autumn poses fewer problems”, it explains.
Interestingly, it also suggests that if the Summer-Time Directive were repealed, it would not automatically abolish summer time across the EU, but would rather “end EU-wide harmonisation and bring the issue of summer time back into the competence of the member states”.
“Member states would be free to decide about their individual time regimes: they might opt to retain summer time (at the current or a modified DST schedule) or to end summer time”, it explains.
Put simply, daylight saving time, or British Summer Time as we know it, means that EU countries have lighter evenings and darker mornings in spring and summer than they would without changing the clocks. The arrangement has been coordinated across EU states since October 1995, and if it didn’t exist, the sun would rise before 4am and set just after 8pm in London on the longest day of the year.
It difficult to imagine many EU countries opting for a situation where there’s so much less light in the evenings and more at a time of day when most people aren’t awake yet. But, as the European parliament report highlights out, member states would technically need to change time zone to achieve summer time all year round. While this is perfectly achievable in a practical sense, the report points out that this could create “negative repercussions on the internal market”.
In 1968, Britain experimented with keeping the clocks one hour ahead for three full years, calling it British Standard Time. However, because the benefits were unclear, the change was dropped. Members of parliament have since tried to reintroduce British Standard Time and indeed, double British summer time – first implemented during WWII, this arrangement means clocks are one hour ahead of GMT for autumn and winter, jumping to two hours ahead during spring and summer.