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Wintertime: changing of the clocks, but why?

Zeitumstellung Winterzeit Zahlen Symbole Schwarz

© Jan Engel / Fotolia

Citizens recurrently turn to the European Parliament with comments on the changing of the clocks. Some citizens are in favour of the summertime/wintertime arrangement; others call on the Parliament to abolish it. On Sunday, 29 October 2017 the clocks go back one hour – but why?

Twice a year the clocks in all EU Member States are switched – back by one hour from summer to wintertime (on the last Sunday in October) and forward one hour from winter to summertime (on the last Sunday in March).


This is an updated version of the EP Answer: ‘Summertime: changing of the clocks, but why?‘, published on 24 March 2017.


EU legislation and its implications

The current reference text in EU legislation with regard to summer-time arrangements for all Member States is Directive 2000/84/EC. The main idea is to provide stable, long-term planning which is important for the proper functioning of certain economic sectors.

Harmonising time

The standard time is wintertime and during the summer the time is put forward 60 minutes. Decision-making regarding standard time falls within the competence of Member States. Most Member States introduced summer time in the 1970s, although some began to apply it much earlier, for varying lengths of time. Since the 1980s the EU (the European Parliament and the Council), has adopted several directives harmonising the varying summertime arrangements step by step, to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. The main idea is to provide stable, long-term planning which is important for the proper functioning of certain economic sectors, especially transport.

In 2007, the European Commission published a report on the impact of this directive, concluding that: ‘apart from the fact that it provides greater opportunities for a wide range of evening leisure activities and produces some energy savings, summer time has little impact and the current arrangements are not a subject at the forefront of people’s minds in the EU Member States. […] No Member State has expressed a wish to abandon summer time or change the provisions of the current directive. On the contrary, it is important to maintain the harmonised timetable to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, which is the main objective of the directive’.

In 2014, the Commission launched a further study on the harmonisation of summertime in Europe. The study, entitled ‘The application of summertime in Europe‘, concludes that if summertime was not harmonised in the Union, it would entail substantial inconvenience and disturbance for citizens and businesses alike.

European Parliament action

The latest European Parliament plenary debate on summer/winter-time arrangements took place on 27 October 2016. Members of the European Parliament have also submitted various parliamentary questions asking whether the Commission is planning to revise or repeal Directive 2000/84/EC.

Furthermore, three parliamentary committees held a joint public hearing entitled ‘Time to Revisit Summer Time?‘, on 24 March 2015. Since the hearing, new parliamentary questions have been submitted, pointing to experts’ findings that the current summertime arrangements have more negative than positive effects.

In its answer of 8 February 2017, the Commission makes clear that, independently from the specific time zone a Member State has decided to apply on its territory, every Member State has to apply the summertime arrangements and move the clocks one hour ahead on the last Sunday of March and move the clocks back to wintertime on the last Sunday of October.

The European Parliamentary Research Service has produced a study on the summer-time arrangements, which points out that summer time benefits the internal market (notably the transport sector) and outdoor leisure activities, yet health research associates the arrangements with some disruption to the human biorhythm.

Petitions

For years, the summertime arrangements have also been subject of petitions that citizens have submitted to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, for example Petition 1477/2012. Information on petitions and procedures for submitting a petition to the European Parliament are available on the Parliament’s petitions website.

European Commission to bring forward an analysis

The European Commission announced, in its reply of 23 January 2017 to a parliamentary question, that it is looking into the issue of summer and wintertime and will bring forward an analysis of the impact of the current arrangements in the Member States, based on available evidence.


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The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Wintertime: changing of the clocks, but why?

  1. Amis terriennes et terriens
    La fin ou le maintien du changement d’heure mérite un vrai débat avec des vrais informations.
    En France les gens n’ont pas compris la vraie question .Si une majorité est contre le changement d’heure 76% veulent garder l’heure d’été preuve qu’ils n’ont pas saisi que le projet était de garder l’heure “d’hiver” toute l’année.
    Un des problèmes évoqué est le manque de lumière le matin . On ne peut oublier le manque de lumière le soir quand on sort du travail en hiver. Dans les deux cas ce manque joue sur le moral.
    On parle de plus en plus de dépression saisonnière et de “blues” de l’hiver.Qui n’as pas ressenti cet effet le premier jour du passage à l’heure d’hiver?
    Pour les “fêtards” ce n’est pas seulement l’horaire d’été qui les stimule c’est surtout la température.Les actifs ou les scolaires méritent bien un peu de lumière à l’heure de la sortie
    En ce qui concerne le décalage horaire j’ai travaillé 34 ans en horaire décalé comme 20% de la population active, j’ai pratiqué ce “décalage” 1 à 3 fois par semaine. Le plus gros problème de ce décalage était le manque de sommeil,j’ai donc du mal à comprendre les “troubles” liés à un manque d’une heure par année.

    Like

    Posted by Guillot | February 17, 2018, 19:20
  2. Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
    ich entnehme der Presse, dass das europäische Parlament einen Auftrag an die Kommission erteilt hat, den Sinn der Zeitumstellung zu prüfen. Ferner entnehme ich dem Bericht, dass ein Großteil der Abgeordneten einer Abschaffung der Sommerzeit positiv gegenüber stehen.
    Bevor Sie einer scheinbaren populistischen Neigung nachgeben, sollten Sie noch einmal ernsthaft darüber nachdenken.
    1. Es gibt keine ernst zu nehmenden Argumente gegen die Zeitumstellung.
    2. Alle Umfragen von forsa und anderen Instituten werden falsch interpretiert.
    3. Der sogenannte “Minilag” ist ein Phantom. Schon eine einfache Reise vom Norden in den Süden verändert die Auf-und Untergangzeiten der Sonne. Ganz zu schweigen von Flugreisen in die Türkei, nach Mallorca oder (ganz schlimm) nach Teneriffa. Wenn diese “Minilags” gesundheitsschädlich wären, sollten Sie besser vor derartigen Reisen warnen.
    4. Die eine fehlende Stunde ärgert höchstens die Partygänger, die aber sowieso am Sonntag unausgeschlafen sind – Zeitumstellung hin oder her. Außerdem können diese dann im Herbst gern die Stunde länger feiern.
    5. Die Sommerzeit ärgert natürlich die privaten Fernsehanstalten, denen durch die längere Aktivität der Menschen Einschaltquoten fehlen. Dies ist aber gerade ein starkes Argument für die Beibehaltung der Sommerzeit.
    6. Nur weil einige Leute (hier beziehe ich den ehemaligen französischen Präsidenten mit ein) nicht in der Lage sind, ihre Uhren rechtzeitig, z. B. schon Sonnabend Abend, umzustellen, wollen Sie uns der schönen langen, herrlichen und hellen Sommerabende berauben? Es ist mir unverständlich, warum gerade hier im Norden die Abschaffung so populär sein soll. Fahren nicht auch Sie oft nach Sylt und können dort noch um 22 Uhr einen wunderbaren Spaziergang am Strand machen?
    7. Auch die Alternative, die Winterzeit abzuschaffen, wird sich keiner Beliebtheit erfreuen, wenn die Menschen feststellen müssen, dass die Sonne im Winter erst um 9:30 Uhr aufgeht und die Kinder dann schon die erste Pause in Dunkelheit hinter sich haben.
    Deshalb mein Appell: Bevor man populistische Maßnahmen ergreift: Nochmal nachdenken und die Menschen aufklären. Die meisten Menschen stellen erst im Nachhinein fest, dass sie einem Phantom aufgesessen sind, was dann zur Verärgerung führt (siehe Zeitumstellung in Russland).
    Ich bitte Sie inständig: ERHALTEN SIE UNS DIE ZEITUMSTELLUNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
    Gottfried Hoffmann
    Schwarzenbeker Str. 11
    21516 Müssen
    Tel: 04155-823868
    E-Mail: gottfriedhoffmann@gmx.de

    Like

    Posted by Dr.-Ing. Gottfried Hoffmann | February 12, 2018, 11:18

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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