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Summer time, and the going is anything but easy

© Sonja Langford for Unsplash

The switch from winter time to summer time in Europe was supposed to come to an end this year, but the European Commission has now decided it will not take place either this year, or in “the coming years”.

The news comes in a reply by the Commission to a written question from Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans (Open VLD).

The Commission first came forward with its proposal to scrap the change in 2018, years after most people had come to the same conclusion. The European Parliament got behind the idea, as did opinion polls of the public.

The proposal was planned to become reality in 2021, when the time is shows on your clock right now would remain the time all year round. For people in Belgium, no more street lights at five in the evening. The mnemonic ‘Spring forward, Fall back’ would no longer make sense to future generations.

So what went wrong?

That was the theory, but the practice soon showed itself to be a minefield. In the first place, which gets scrapped – winter time or summertime? Opinions were divided, so the Commission decided to allow each member state to decide for itself which.

A solution that, clearly, is anything but. The prospect of travelling from Schiphol to Luxembourg and passing through three time-zones calls to mind the business of having to changes currencies on crossing every border – a chore most of us are glad to be done with, and a reminder of what the European Union used not to be.

Result: This year’s switch to a single time zone is postponed until an undefined future date.

“Apparently not a single Member State has officially communicated the preference for winter or summertime,” Hilde Vautmans told VRT radio.

However, there have been opinion polls in the member states. Of course, the member states and the EU had other priorities such as the corona crisis, the vaccination campaigns and the economic recovery,” she said.