EU to review impact of daylight savings time

James Crisp
Angelo Ciocca, an Italian MEP, branded the debate

The European Union is to review moving clocks forward and back between summer and winter time after a call from MEPs.

Brussels had set down rules that mean all EU countries, including Britain, change the clock in March and put it back in October at the same time. The standardisation smoothed out transport issues caused by clashing timetables across the bloc.

In an hour-long debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs called on the European Commission to cancel the twice-yearly clock change and pointed to studies that claim it would bring health benefits.

Detractors of daylight savings time claim that it is bad for people’s health, said Pavel Svoboda MEP, and that “social jetlag” caused by the gain or loss if an hour made people smoke and drink more.

“20 per cent of our people suffer from health issues and 80 per cent of our population, on the other hand, don’t believe they are suffering from these issues,” said Mr Svobada, a centre-right politician from the Czech Republic.

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"I am totally unconvinced by the inconclusive scientific reports of negative effects on health and road safety," said Jacqueline Foster, the Tory MEP for the North West of England.

“In my view this is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when there are far more important issues which we should be focusing on in Europe,” the deputy leader of Conservatives in the European Parliament added.

“Here we are crazily talking about a pointless and nugatory issue that doesn’t really interest European citizens,” raged Angelo Ciocca, an Italian MEP who brandished a large clock to make his point in the sparsely populated chamber.

The push from the parliament’s Transport Committee to abolish daylight savings time was defeated Thursday after an amendment was introduced to the resolution.

The amendment asks the European Commission to research the impact a change would have and legislate accordingly rather than ban the clock change straight away.  The resolution was adopted with 384 votes in favour, 153 against and 12 abstentions.

“If we ever decide to stop changing the clock, it has to be done throughout the EU in a synchronised and unified manner,” Violeta Bulc, the EU’ s Transport Commissioner, told MEPs.

Brussels introduced the first Summertime Directive in 1981 but it wasn't until 1996 that a later version ensured all the clocks were changed simultaneously in the EU.

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