Skip to Content

Why Daylight Saving Time’s Days May Be Numbered in the EU

European countries are a step closer to getting rid of Daylight Saving Time, following a public consultation that found overwhelming support for the move.

The modern practice of changing the clocks forward by an hour in springtime, and back again after summer, is little more than a century old, popularized first by Canada and the German Empire.

The scheme gives people more time before sundown during summer, and rationales have varied from energy saving to promoting productivity. However, there is little evidence to back up the supposed benefits, and some complain of sleep disturbances due to the twice-yearly shift.

In the European Union, Daylight Saving Time was standardized across the bloc in the 1970s, but the tide has since turned. Russia ditched the system four years ago, moving to permanent “winter time” after an unpopular experiment that involved settling on permanent “summer time,” and non-EU European countries such as Belarus and Iceland also leave their clocks alone these days.

In February of this year, with member state Finland calling for a change, the European Parliament voted 384 to 153 in favor of a review of the Daylight Saving Time system. The European Commission duly launched a public consultation in July, and the results are reported to show that 80% of respondents want to see the end of the system.

Remarkably, given the German Empire’s role in introducing the system, 3 million of the 4.6 million responses to the consultation came from Germany.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said Friday that the EU should do what its people are asking it to do.

“I will recommend to the Commission that, if you ask the citizens, then you have to do what the citizens say,” he said in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF. “We will decide on this today, and then it will be the turn of the member states and the European Parliament.”

Although there does now seem to be a strengthening push for the system’s abolition in the EU, it is not yet clear whether the bloc’s countries would opt for the clock settings now associated with summer or winter. Politico Playbook reported Friday that the transport and financial services commissioners, Violeta Bulc and Valdis Dombrovskis, favor permanent “summer time.”

Surveys in the U.S. have suggested no great appetite among Americans for such a change.