European Union citizens change their clocks twice per year – from summertime to wintertime and vice versa. But is it worth the trouble?

The European Commission wants to know what you think! It launched an online survey to gather views of European citizens, stakeholders and member states on the current EU summertime arrangements and on any potential change to those arrangements. The (survey) will remain online until August 16.

The clock change was introduced decades ago to save energy. But a significant group of citizens and members of European Parliament now say that goal has not been achieved. It seems that hardly any energy is being saved, with people using more electronic devises and air conditioners.

“This clock change has more disadvantages than advantages” says MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik, a Christian democrat from the Netherlands. “The clock change causes disturbances of the body’s biorhythm and family life, as well as sleep deprivation and misunderstandings in businesses. So why are we keeping this bad regulation in place?”

Her Czech counterpart, Pavel Svoboda, had told a recent a press conference that setting the clock one hour ahead or back “leads to more traffic accidents, more family disorders, and a decline in productivity in the workplace”. He prefers one time, during the whole year.

Svoboda and a group of more than 70 MEPs tabled a resolution criticising the clock change. They were successful. The European Parliament adopted the resolution in February, demanding a study by the European Commission.

“We now urge citizens to make use of this unique opportunity to influence EU-policy”, states Schreijer-Pierik. “Time is running out to fill in the questionnaire. A great chance, though it is unfortunate that the European Commission launched the questionnaire during the summer break.”

In the questionnaire, citizens can even note if they prefer the clock change. If not, they can express a preference for a time setting: continue with wintertime or summer time. This is because some people would prefer to have the extra hour of daylight at night also in winter, although the mornings will be darker then.

The issue is more pressing in northern EU member states because the change in season has more effect on the length of the nights. The north has dark winters with little daylight and bright summers with short nights. For the Southernmost EU members, the day and night distribution of daylight scarcely alters during the year, the European Commission explains in back ground information on the questionnaire.

Some member states recently addressed the summertime issue in letters to the Commission. Finland asked the EU that the bi-annual time switch be abandoned. Lithuania has called for a review of the current system in order to take into account regional and geographical differences. The Polish parliament is also in favour of ending the clock change.

MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik and other politicians have received many petitions against the clock change from citizens. “We all want better regulation. Abolishing this unnecessary clock change would improve the lives of over 500 million EU-citizens. And it would take just one simple decision, with easy technical implementation. So, I urge people to fill in this questionnaire and express their opinion!”

The link to the questionnaire (available in all 24 official EU languages):