The European Commission’s proposal to stop daylight savings next year is a bad idea, according to the bloc’s transport ministers. They say the European Union needs more time to prepare.
“If we aim to do this in 2019, as the Commission suggested, this will not be supported by the majority of member states,” Austria’s Transport Minister Norbert Hofer said at the start of an informal meeting of EU transport ministers in the Austrian city of Graz on October 29.
Hofer said the switch to permanent winter or summer time should take place instead in 2021.
“Three countries [Britain, Sweden and Poland] were sceptical and one was concerned that we could end up with a patchwork of different time zones,” Hofer added.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Hofer said necessary technical preparations meant the proposed date to end changing the clocks needed to be moved to 2021.”
“For example, the airline industry tells us they need at least 18 months to prepare,” Hofer said. “We must also be careful that we don’t end up with a patchwork of time zones” across Europe, Hofer added, referring to the possibility of neighbouring countries making different choices on whether to stay on summer or winter time permanently. This could be a particular issue for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland given the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans last month to stop changing Europe’s clocks in October 2019.
In a separate report, the Reuters news agency noted that Danish Transport Minister Ole Birk Olesen said there needed to be a full public debate on the issue, which had not yet happened in Denmark, and it was not realistic to scrap clock changes next year.
Luxembourg, where nearly half the local workforce actually lives in Belgium, France or Germany, urged a continued harmonised system, its minister saying it would be “catastrophic” if those countries were on different time zones.