Since early July, the European Commission has published a Poll open to all citizens of the EU. The Poll is essentially questioning whether or not we should keep the Daylight Saving Time within the European Union. With two weeks left on the clock to vote, for those who care, you are still able to cast your vote.
“The Commission is committed to gather European citizens’, stakeholders’ and Member States’ views on possible changes to the current summertime arrangements.” – European Commission
As per the Commission: “Following a number of requests from citizens, from the European Parliament, and from certain EU Member States, the Commission has decided to investigate the functioning of the current EU summertime arrangements and to assess whether or not they should be changed. In this context, the Commission is interested in gathering the views of European citizens, stakeholders and Member States on the current EU summertime arrangements and on any potential change to those arrangements.”
In addition they state that “the majority of the EU Member States have a long tradition of summertime arrangements, most of which date back as far as the First and Second World Wars or to the oil crisis in the 1970s. At the time, summertime arrangements were mainly designed to save energy. However, there have also been other motivations, such as road safety, increasing leisure opportunities stemming from longer daylight during evenings or simply to align national practices to those of neighbours or main trading partners.”
Interesting is that the Commission posted some mythbusting facts in its press release with respect to the above arguments pro Daylight Saving Time:
- Internal market: At this juncture, evidence is only conclusive on one point: that allowing uncoordinated time changes between Member States would be detrimental to the internal market due to higher costs to cross-border trade, inconveniences in transport, communications and travel, and lower productivity in the internal market for goods and services;
- Energy: Despite having been one of the main drivers of the current arrangements, research indicates that the overall energy savings effect of summertime is marginal. Results also tend to vary depending on factors such as geographical location.
- Health: Summertime arrangements are estimated to generate positive effects linked to more outdoor leisure activities. On the other hand, chronobiologic research findings suggest that the effect on the human biorhythm may be more severe than previously thought. The evidence on overall health impacts (i.e. the balance of the assumed positive versus negative effects) remains inconclusive;
- Road safety: Evidence remains inconclusive with regard to the relationship between summertime arrangements and road traffic accidents. In principle, sleep deprivation from advancing the clock in spring could increase the risk of accidents. At the same time, extended daylight hours during summer evenings are considered to have a positive effect on road safety. However, it is generally difficult to attribute directly the effect of summertime arrangements on accident rates compared to other factors;
- Agriculture: Previous concerns regarding disrupted biorhythm of animals and changing milking schedules due to the time switch appear to have largely disappeared due to the deployment of new equipment, artificial lighting and automated technologies. An extra daylight-hour during summer can also be an advantage allowing extended working hours for outdoor activities, such as working in fields and harvesting.
As a result of the varied opinions across the Union, the Commission now sets out two possible ways forward:
- Keeping the current EU summertime arrangements, or
- Discontinuethe current bi-annual time changes for all Member States and prohibiting periodic switches; and it would ultimately remain each Member State’s decision whether to go for permanent summer or wintertime
So, for the readers in the EU with a moment to spare, go cast your vote here.