Economy

European Commission to retire bi-annual clock change

August 31, 2018, 2:50 pm  english version Hungarian version  
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Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has announced in the German public television on Friday that the European Union will bow to the results of a public consultation and will put an end to the bi-annual clock change. Member States may freely choose between standard time and daylight saving time.


This online consultation, which ran from 4 July to 16 August 2018, received 4.6 million responses from all 28 Member States, the highest number of responses ever received in any Commission public consultation. According to the preliminary results (see annex), 84% of respondents are in favour of putting an end to the bi-annual clock change.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put the summertime question on the political agenda as part of his pledge to be big on the big things while leaving it to Member States to take decisions where they are best placed to do so.

The public consultation on clock change arrangements was organised by the European Commission as part of its ongoing assessment of the current arrangements on clock change in Europe. It also follows the European Parliament's resolution in February 2018, as well as requests from Member States, stakeholders and citizens.

The final results of the public consultation will be published in the coming weeks. The Commission will now make a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council with a view of changing the current clock change arrangements.

Preliminary results of public consultation on clock change in Europe
This online consultation, which ran from 4 July to 16 August 2018, received 4.6 million responses from all 28 Member States, the highest number of responses ever received in any Commission public consultation.

According to the preliminary results, 84% of respondents are in favour of putting an end to the bi-annual clock change.


European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc presented these preliminary results to the College of Commissioners that held a first discussion on the possible next steps.

Millions of Europeans used our public consultation to make their voices heard. The message is very clear: 84% of them do not want the clocks to change anymore. We will now act accordingly and prepare a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and the Council, who will then decide together
, said Bulc.

The preliminary results also indicate that more than three quarters (76%) of the respondents consider that changing the clock twice a year is a 'very negative' or 'negative' experience. Considerations related to the negative health impacts, increase of road accidents or the lack of energy savings, were put forward by respondents as motivations to put an end to the change.

In Hungary, 0.21% of the population took part in the survey. This is the 8th lowest ratio in the entire EU, while the highest was recorded in Germany at 3.79%. Three million of the 4.6 mn respondents were German.

In Hungary, 90% of respondents were in favour of abolishing the current system. Despite the high ratio, the current regime is hated even more in Poland and Finland (95%), Spain (93%) and Lithuania (91%), but Croatians equally dislike the system (90% against it).

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Since 1996, all Europeans have been changing their clock forward by one hour on the last Sunday of March and by one hour backward on the last Sunday of October. The purpose of EU rules was not to harmonise the time regime in the EU but to address the problems, notably for the transport and logistics sectors, which arise from an uncoordinated application of clock-changes in the course of the year.

Without the clock change, if the clocks are not changed forward one hour at the end of March, darkness will fall one hour later, i.e. daylight time will be longer and darker nights will be shorter. In parallel to the daylight saving time arrangement in the European Union, the Member States apply three different time zones or standard times. The decision on the standard time is a national competence.

The EC is to make a decision in respect of the bi-annual clock change already during its current two-day meeting, on the basis of the results of the online questionnaire, the related studies and consultations with different organisations. The EC decision then needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the government of the member states. A new directive must be put in place for the abolishment of the current clock change regime, but there is no information yet about the implementation of the new rule. Therefore it is also unclear whether the clock change due this October will be carried out or not.

Gergely Gulyás, the minister leading the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, said the government has no official stance on the matter as yet, adding that the Commission had worse proposals than this before. According to reports in 2017, neither members of the ruling Fidesz party, nor the National Economy Ministry were in favour of the abolishment of the bi-annual clock change.

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