(BRUSSELS) – The last Sunday in March 2021 could mark the end of seasonal changes of time in the EU, following a vote Monday by the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee to end biannual clock changes.
The committee is proposing that the clock change should be the last one for EU countries who decide to permanently keep their summer time. Member states that prefer to keep their standard time, also known as ‘winter time’, could change the clocks for the last time on the last Sunday in October 2021.
The draft report backs a Commission proposal to end seasonal change of time, but it postpones the start date from 2019 to 2021. This would not modify EU countries’ right to decide on their standard time.
Transport Committee MEPs also want EU countries to coordinate any changes they make with each other.It says the Commission should assess a member state’s decision to change its standard time to ensure that the application of summer time in some countries and winter time in others does not disrupt the functioning of the internal market.
If the Commission determines that the foreseen time arrangements could significantly and permanently hamper the proper functioning of the single market, it may submit a proposal to postpone the date of application of the directive by a maximum of 12 months and submit a new legislative proposal.
Once approved by the full Parliament, the text will then form the MEPs’ position for negotiations with the Council of Ministers.
The Parliament had called fora thorough assessment of the current summer-time arrangements in February 2018, referring to scientific studies indicating negative effects on human health and a number of concerns expressed by citizens’ initiatives.
A Commission consultation received 4.6 million responses, of which 84% were in favour of discontinuing the biannual clock changes, while 16% wanted to keep them.
The EU first unified the summer-time arrangements in 1980, in order to ensure a harmonised approach to time switching within the single market, as until then, national summer time practices and schedules were diverging. The current summer time arrangements directive requires EU countries to switch to summer time on the last Sunday of March and back to standard time on the last Sunday of October.