The European Commission launched yesterday a public consultation on the clock changes that occur twice a year to cater for the changing patterns of daylight. Everyone is invited to share his or her views by filling in an on-line questionnaire by the latest 16 August. The consultation follows requests from the European Parliament and from certain member states to investigate the functioning of the current EU summertime arrangements and to assess whether or not they should be changed.
Summertime arrangements at EU level exist since the 1980s and are currently governed by directive 2000/84/EC. The directive sets out the obligation on Member States to switch to summertime on the last Sunday of March and to switch back to wintertime on the last Sunday of October.
The objective of EU legislation on summertime was to unify existing national summertime schedules within the single market and to take advantage of the available daylight in a given period.
Summarizing available studies on the current summertime arrangements, the Commission writes that evidence is only conclusive on one point: that allowing uncoordinated time changes between member states would be detrimental to the internal market.
The evidence on overall health impacts remains inconclusive and overall energy savings effect of summertime is marginal.
Respondents to the questionnaire will have to choose between two options: keeping the current summertime arrangements or discontinuing the current bi-annual time changes for all member states.
The second alternative will not affect the choice of time zone, and it would ultimately remain each member state’s decision whether to go for permanent summer or wintertime or a different time.
A Commission spokesperson declined at yesterday’s press briefing to speculate on the outcome of the questionnaire.