European Union may end daylight saving time across 27 member states

Caroline Mortimer
A thing of the past: Finland has called for the end to the practice of changing the clocks every spring and autumn: iStock

The European Parliament has backed a possible plan to end daylight saving time across the remaining 27 member states.

MEPs have called for the European Commission, the central body which is responsible for proposing EU policy, to consider abolishing DST, which means clocks go forward one hour in Spring and back in the Autumn to ensure extra evening daylight in the summer and extra morning daylight in winter.

The system was first adopted during the First World War in the UK to give factories daylight hours to work in to aid the war effort.

The effect is more noticeable the closer you are to the North Pole. As the Earth tilts on its axis, during winter the Northern Hemisphere is further away from the sun than the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa during summer.

This means the number of daylight hours in countries closer to the equator vary far less than in countries in the far north or far south.

For example in Iceland, from mid-May to mid-August the sun only sets for around three hours a night and there are only around five hours of effective daylight during the winter months.

Supporters of the current system say it saves energy and reduces traffic accidents as fewer people have to travel in darkness, but critics argue it causes long-term health problems.

Current EU law stipulates a common date in Spring and Autumn on which clocks must be put forward and back by one hour in all 28 member states (including the UK).

But opinion remains divided on whether the system is an effective way to the regulate greater use of daylight hours in the north.

Last month Finland called for the practice to be abolished across the EU after a petition gathered more than 70,000 signatures from citizens asking the state to end the practice, the BBC reported.

During the debate, French MEP Karima Deli said: “Studies that show an increase in road accidents or sleep trouble during the time change must be taken seriously.”

She added that estimated energy savings were “not conclusive”.

But Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans said that changing DST in her country would mean either losing an hour of daylight for seven months in summer or sending children to school in the dark for five months over winter.