After more than 40 years turning the hands of the clock, the arrival of summer and winter could stop having a time effect in the EU. The community executive has not turned a deaf ear to the citizens and will promote the abolition of the time change. What effects will it have on the citizen, on the economy and when will the decision be made?
What has been approved exactly?
Nothing for the moment. What on Friday said Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, is that 84% of the 4.6 million Europeans who opined in the public consultation promoted by Brussels believe that seasonal advances and delays should be suppressed. So, echoing them – in fact, barely 1% of the community population – the Luxembourg leader announced that they will promote the elimination of the biannual schedule change .
Because, how is the time change now carried out?
For years, the EU has forced its member states to make two annual changes to the clock. One hour advances on the last Sunday of March and that hour is delayed on the last Sunday of October. A change that in Spain is made since the 70s. Thus, with the arrival of winter, you gain an hour of light at the beginning of the day and that in theory favors energy savings. Less artificial light in the morning. But it is not something extended to the entire planet : 60% of the countries do not change the clock.
What explanation does the change have?
Four decades ago, in full crack of oil, it was believed that playing with the schedule would save on energy bills to citizens, businesses and governments. But several studies were showing that these very beneficial benefits were very scarce and did not compensate for the time disruption that it caused to the human being. “The end of the time change will benefit the health, working life and leisure of citizens … and will serve as a lever for other social changes that will benefit people’s lives”, explains Ángel Largo, the general coordinator of the Association for Rationalization of Spanish Timetables (ARHOE) .
Do all countries want to maintain summer time?
That is another subject. Brussels wants the abolition of the time change to be mandatory for all. “Let’s give the opportunity to the European Parliament to see if it finds a common denominator between countries with different geographical situations, surely the Lapps and the Portuguese do not see it the same, ” Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Friday . Her ministerial colleague, spokeswoman Isabel Celáa, added that Spain was “quite in agreement” with not changing the time because it did not offer many advantages. Nordic countries such as Finland or Estonia also want to end with the two biannual changes.
Would it benefit the Spanish economy?
It depends. The IDAE (dependent on Industry) says that the potential for savings in lighting in Spain for the time change is 300 million euros for industry and families. That saving would be lost, but the economy would win on the other hand. Since the Spanish time would be two years ahead of the Greenwich meridian -in the six months of winter it is only an hour-, the country would have more sun at the end of the day. And that would favor tourism, a sector that contributes 11% of GDP to Spain and that has boosted the Spanish economy in its recovery years. In fact, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, two regions of tourist importance, have already made institutional declarations long ago in favor of fixing the summer schedule throughout the year.
And to the citizens?
It also depends. It is true that Spaniards will avoid the “adaptive disorder” that causes negative effects on health and even an increase in traffic accidents – 93% of Spaniards voted in favor of abolishing the time change , ten points more than the European average -; but according to the IDAE 90 million potential savings in the energy bill of citizens would be lost: about six euros per household.
But this … does it have to do with the time zone?
They are two different debates. The one of the hour change extends to all the UE because all the countries change together of hour from 1996. The one of the spindle, however, is only Spanish and has to do with the geographic length. In the EU there are three spindles: western (eg Portugal and the United Kingdom), central (Spain or Germany) the eastern (Greece). The Greenwich meridian cuts Spain, so it should have the same time as British and Portuguese. But it’s not like that. Spain is one hour ahead of them for 80 years – the Franco regime had an influence on this decision – and shares a watch with much more oriental countries such as Germany and Poland.
And how does Spain have a spindle that does not correspond to it?
“It’s nonsense,” they value from En Marea. The Galician formation remembers that its region is the most damaged by this strange spindle. Every summer the Galicians have light until well into the night, something that does not happen in Catalonia that is located a whole time zone more to the east. If the proposal of the Commission goes ahead and Spain maintains the summer schedule throughout the year, Galicians will still have a night sun in summer … but in winter it would still be at night at ten in the morning. “The establishment of the schedule in each State will always be a national competition,” they recall from Brussels.
And why do not we go back to the old spindle?
It is the idea for years and the initiative that ARHOE has been advocating for years, but no government has dared to take the step, perhaps, because delaying one hour the clock would impact the tourism sector (foreign visitors prefer one hour more beach that an early sunny sunrise). The government of Rajoy included it in its government program but the idea ended up being parked despite the fact that the former minister of economy Luis de Guindos emphasized that the project “would not stay in the drawer”. In the drawer he stayed. Borrell insinuated on Friday that the time has come for Spain to have “a time zone” according to its geographical position.
Which are the next steps?
Brussels says that whatever the decision, the changes will be coordinated and there will be a common change in all countries. The European Commission will issue a legislative proposal foreseeably after the European elections next year. Then it will be debated and voted for by the Members of the European Parliament and, finally, it will be the European Council – that is, the heads of states – that will sign the agreement that will put an end to the schedule changes. “It will be one of the topics that will be discussed in the European election campaign,” they predict from Brussels.
Is the European Commission correct in proposing to abolish the time change?
Yes, it is a decision supported by citizens and changing the time does not benefit the energy saving 85.62% (19787 votes) No, the winter and summer schedules should be maintained despite the result of the survey. 9.47% (2189 votes) I do not care if it changes, it’s not an important decision. 4.91% (1135 votes) Total votes: 23111 see survey