MEPs vote to scrap mandatory Summer Time

Each EU country now has to decide among three options for the time

Daylight Saving Time is likely to come to an end in Europe. People in the Czech Republic this year will set clocks forward on March 31 at 2 am as part of twice-yearly clock changing ritual. But this could be one of the last times.

The European Parliament has voted to put an end to the mandatory spring forward – fall back process across the EU, as early as 2021. In Europe, this move forward has officially been called Summer Time, but us commonly referred to as Daylight Saving Time (DST).

This is not the final step though. Now the European Parliament has to find a compromise with each EU member state.

Under the approved proposal, each member state would decide whether to continue with the clock changes or stick permanently to Summer Time or Winter Time.

All 28 member states would need to tell the European Commission what they plan to do by April 2020.

Members of the European Parliament and European Commission said they hope states co-ordinate their approaches so that the EU doesn’t again become a patchwork of different time rules that interfere with the smooth running of train and plane schedules.

A current EU directive calls for all 28 states to switch to Summer Time on the last Sunday of March and back to Winter Time on the last Sunday of October.

The European Commission made the proposal to scrap Summer Time last year, after a public consultation showed 84 percent of people favored the cancellation. But the survey has been heavily criticized for not being representative.

People in Germany accounted for approximately 3 million of the 4.6 million survey responses. People in other countries have since complained that this is another example of Germany driving the EU agenda.

Another EU study also stated that changing clocks has a detrimental effect on people’s health.

Originally, the EU wanted to scrap the clock changes by 2019, but the plan was seen as too brisk, and there were other more pressing issues to debate.

Russia stopped changing clocks back and forth in 2011. At first they adopted Summer Time all year, but in 2014 switched to Winter Time after people complained that winters were too dark.

Summer Time was first introduced during World War I. Most countries discontinued the practice after the war. It was used again in World War II, but was widely canceled by the 1950s. In the late 1960s the energy crisis saw it reintroduced.

Different countries in Europe had different practices and this caused problems with transport and communications. Starting in 1981 the European Community began issuing directives to standardize start and end dates for Summer Time, and there have been several adjustments over the years.

One clock in Prague that can’t follow the change is the Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square.

While its complicated-to-read face shows several different times including Old Bohemian time based on the sunset as well as Central European Time, the clock cannot be made to show Summer Time and Winter Time. The clock tracks the movements of the sun and moon, linking them to the time, and this can't be pushed back or forward without redesigning the entire clock mechanism. The Astronomical Clock was designed in 1410, long before the Summer Time concept.

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