By Kevin Fraser Park •
Published: 25 Oct 2023 • 10:19
The Clock Change Debate
On Saturday night, Sunday morning, the clocks go back by one hour. Nations started switching between standard time in winter and daylight saving time in summer during the First World War, as they sought to cut energy costs: an extra hour of daylight in the evening meant less time with the lights on. However, there are no reliable studies that show that doing this leads to less energy expenditure.
Much of the world avoided that move or has since abandoned the practice, but in Europe and the US, nobody has been able to agree to stop the clocks from changing.
Spain’s time zone is something of an anomaly: it syncs its clocks with central Europe instead of the UK, which sits directly above it and is an hour behind. Spaniards sleep nearly an hour less on average each night than other Europeans, in part thanks to this time zone quirk, which originated during World War II to put Spain on time with Nazi Germany.
However, a permanent switch to daylight saving time would mean darker mornings in Spain in winter and research shows that can pose a risk of more road accidents during morning rush hour.
In 2018, the European Commission conducted a survey of 4.6 million citizens in which 84% of the participants voted to keep the same time throughout the year. In view of this result, Brussels has suggested that time is fixed for the 28 states of the European Union and the European Parliament voted in 2019 to stop changing clocks, but it didn’t get the approval it needed from the European Union’s other legislative body, the European Council.
Progress has been slow, partly because recent crises have diverted attention from the decision. First it was Covid-19, then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine commanded the EU’s attention now it is the cost of living problems and the eruption of violence in Gaza.
There is also the problem of getting all member states to agree because, if you are going to fix the time, what should that time be? Most states support the proposal but there are exceptions: Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the Czech Republic prefer to keep to the winter time arrangement (i.e. abolish putting the clocks forward in March). Portugal, on the other hand, wants to continue with the twice-yearly time change.
Whatever the final decision, it doesn’t look like anything will change any time soon (apart from the clocks!).
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Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.
I believed that the decision of whether to change at all and to which time zone was to be left to individual countries.
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