David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

Changed Times

The Caithness Courier, March 2015

At the end of last month here in Scotland, along with all other European Union countries, clocks were moved the extra hour forward to summer-time. It is believed the shift enables better use of the summer’s longer daylight hours and will create greater opportunities for both leisure and work. There is some evidence however that the change can lead to an increase in heart attacks and road accidents in the days immediately following the switch and many find it inconvenient, annoying and unnecessary. Citizens frequently ask questions of the European Parliament about the changing of the clocks and have called on the Parliament to abolish summer-time arrangements.

Most Member States introduced summer-time in the 1970s, although some had started applying it much earlier and for varying lengths of time. Since the 1980s the EU has adopted several directives harmonising, step-by-step, the varying summer-time arrangements between different member states. The reasoning behind this was to provide stable, long-term planning for the proper functioning of certain areas, especially the economic sectors, transport, communications and the movement of people.
UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time in English or Temps Universel Coordonné in French – the abbreviation as UTC is a compromise between the two. Since 1981 each of the European Directives has specified a transition time of 01:00 UTC and a start date of the last Sunday in March. The end dates however have differed. Successive Directives laid down two dates for the end: one on the last Sunday in September applied by the continental Member States, and the other on the fourth Sunday in October for the UK and Ireland. In 1996 the end date was changed to the fourth Sunday in October for all countries. In 1998 the end date was adjusted to be the last Sunday in October. The ninth directive, currently in force, has made this permanent so at the EU level, despite time differences, actual summer time should begin on the last Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in October.

Although the idea has often been credited to Benjamin Franklin, it is believed that Germany and Austria-Hungary were the first to embrace the concept a century ago to save fuel for the First World War. Others countries soon followed but there are also many that haven't including Russia, China and Japan. Various Petitions and Parliamentary Questions have been submitted to the European Commission on the issue. One has requested to extend the current summer-time period in order to bring it into line with the current arrangements in the United States and Canada. Another has suggested that the Commission should conduct research to fully understand the health consequences for the people of the EU.

Decisions regarding the switch remain under the jurisdiction of individual European countries, and not that of the EU and the Commission does not currently plan any revision of the arrangement. So, for now, to regain that extra hour in bed it will be a (hopefully) warm and sunny wait until 25 October.

 

Changed Times

At the end of last month here in Scotland, along with all other European Union countries, clocks were moved the extra hour forward to summer-time. It is believed the shift enables better use of the summer’s longer daylight hours and will create greater opportunities for both leisure and work. There is some evidence however that the change can lead to an increase in heart attacks and road accidents in the days immediately following the switch and many find it inconvenient, annoying and unnecessary. Citizens frequently ask questions of the European Parliament about the changing of the clocks and have called on the Parliament to abolish summer-time arrangements.

Most Member States introduced summer-time in the 1970s, although some had started applying it much earlier and for varying lengths of time. Since the 1980s the EU has adopted several directives harmonising, step-by-step, the varying summer-time arrangements between different member states. The reasoning behind this was to provide stable, long-term planning for the proper functioning of certain areas, especially the economic sectors, transport, communications and the movement of people.

UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time in English or Temps Universel Coordonné in French – the abbreviation as UTC is a compromise between the two. Since 1981 each of the European Directives has specified a transition time of 01:00 UTC and a start date of the last Sunday in March. The end dates however have differed. Successive Directives laid down two dates for the end: one on the last Sunday in September applied by the continental Member States, and the other on the fourth Sunday in October for the UK and Ireland. In 1996 the end date was changed to the fourth Sunday in October for all countries. In 1998 the end date was adjusted to be the last Sunday in October. The ninth directive, currently in force, has made this permanent so at the EU level, despite time differences, actual summer time should begin on the last Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in October.

Although the idea has often been credited to Benjamin Franklin, it is believed that Germany and Austria-Hungary were the first to embrace the concept a century ago to save fuel for the First World War. Others countries soon followed but there are also many that haven't including Russia, China and Japan. Various Petitions and Parliamentary Questions have been submitted to the European Commission on the issue. One has requested to extend the current summer-time period in order to bring it into line with the current arrangements in the United States and Canada. Another has suggested that the Commission should conduct research to fully understand the health consequences for the people of the EU.

Decisions regarding the switch remain under the jurisdiction of individual European countries, and not that of the EU and the Commission does not currently plan any revision of the arrangement. So, for now, to regain that extra hour in bed it will be a (hopefully) warm and sunny wait until 25 October.

 

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.