The EU is ditching daylight saving time because it’s what the people want

Steady hands.
Steady hands.
Image: Reuters/John Schults
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European Union citizens care a hell of a lot about daylight saving time. In the largest survey ever conducted by the European Commission, 80% of around 4.6 million respondents said they favor abolishing the finicky practice of changing the clocks in summer and winter. (Before you ask: Yes, it’s daylight saving time—not savings time.)

“We carried out a survey, millions responded and believe that in future, summer time should be year-round, and that’s what will happen,” EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told Germany’s ZDF (link in German). It’s up to the commission now to draw up some legislative proposals, which will then go before both the European Parliament and ministers from 28 EU countries. Getting it through those hurdles is easier said than done. But countries like Finland, Lithuania, Sweden, and Poland have been actively pushing the bloc to abolish its law on daylight saving time.

The current law requires clocks in the European Union to be moved forward by an hour on the last Sunday in March, for summer time, and back on the last Sunday in October, for winter time. A commission consultation paper suggests that countries could be allowed to choose between sticking with permanent summer time (which would mean longer evenings) or winter time (which would mean brighter mornings).

Evidence for the supposed benefits of daylight saving time, such as saving energy, is mixed, and the downsides have become increasingly apparent in recent years. It typically takes a few days for people to adapt to these kinds of time shifts, and studies have shown that people sleep around 40 minutes less following the switch to summer time. There is also reason to believe that the time shift results in both heightened stress and an increase in car accidents.

While citizens from all EU member states voted in the poll, around two-thirds of responses came from Germany (link in German), according to Welt. Regardless, Europeans seem particularly heated up about daylight saving in comparison to their neighbors down under. In 1992, Queensland, Australia residents got the chance to vote on time—and were pretty much evenly split on the matter.