Strong controversy has arisen in recent years on the pros and cons of seasonal time change. Many countries decide to change to summer or wintertime to save energy, but it also has adverse impacts on crop yields and animal welfare, interrupting the biorhythms of livestock, which, for example, affects the milking of cows. Changes of time also have a negative impact on public health, with children and older people being those most affected. In any case, any time change in the EU must be coordinated for the functioning of transport and the internal market.
This is why the European Parliament asked the European Commission to review the existing Directive and see what is best for Europeans. In summer 2018, the Commission conducted an open consultation which generated around 4.6 million responses, 84% of them in favour of abolishing seasonal changes of time.
Today the transport and tourism committee in the European Parliament backed the report of S&D MEP Marita Ulvskog calling for the abolition of seasonal time change by 2021.
Marita Ulvskog said:
“Member states choose if they want wintertime or summertime as permanent standard time. But it is very important for the EU internal market to work and to keep a harmonised approach with the internal market, with for example transport and communications. We want a coordinated mechanism, where member states need to cooperate and coordinate between themselves to avoid a patchwork of different times in the EU.
“Instead of April 2019, as proposed by the Commission, to postpone it to 2021. The Commission proposal to be somewhat premature, as no proper impact assessment was performed before the proposal to revise the Directive was drawn up. The Commission’s open consultation was also conducted over a relatively short period, eight weeks, rather than the customary 12 weeks. This is regrettable, as impact assessments of legislative proposals are an important way of providing policymakers with sufficient information to base their final decision on.”
S&D spokesperson on transport, Ismail Ertug MEP, said:
“A harmonised time system within the EU is essential. Member states should be free to decide which time they choose, but they must coordinate their work on the choice of time zone and standard time among themselves. Decisions on this could be coordinated by exchanging information between responsible contact points in the member states in the form of a network.”