European Interest

Big push for ending clock change EU

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For the first time, the European Parliament is about to vote on a resolution asking to end the biannual clock change. Resetting clocks for summertime or wintertime has been disturbing citizens and companies for too long, says a group of almost 100 Members of European Parliament. 
The EU-obligation for clock change does not deliver the expected energy saving. “The current regime does not have any positive value. On the contrary, the biannual clock-changing causes health problems for 20% of our population”, says MEP Pavel Svoboda from the Czech Republic. He leads an informal working group against clock change, consisting of almost 100 MEPs from all 8 political groups.
The resolution asks the European Commission to table a proposal to end the obligation to change the clocks in March and October. If the resolution would not get a majority, an alternative resolution asks the European Commission for an assessment only.
The MEPs join a growing number of national parliaments that want to end the obligation to change the clocks in March and October. Finland, Poland and Estonia are among the Member States calling for an end. In Polish parliament the vote was even uniquely unanimous.The Finnish minister of Transport raised the issue at the Transport council meeting 4/5 Dec 2017.
 “The biannual clockchange disturbs the biorhythm, family life and economy”, says Dutch MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik, who had been campaigning against clock change for dozens of years. “The current European Commission has introduced “better regulation” as its goal. Well, ending unnecessary clock change would be perfect to make the lives of 500 million EU-citizens way more easier: one time during the whole year”
A study by the European Parliament Research Service confirmed that the benefits of the directive are rather „marginal“. The study also shows negative consequences for health are „more severe“ than thought so far. This is supported by the Nobel prize 2017 for medicine given to scientists „for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”, including clock change.
A number of national initiatives supports the actions by the European and national politicians. In Finland 70.000 signatures were collected, in The Netherlands around 40.000. “I have serious problems adjusting to the clock change, it takes me months to recover”, said Anouk Verhaaff from Rotterdam at a press conference in Strasbourg in October, asking the European Parliament to end the biannual clock change. Action groups from France, Belgium and Germany were also represented.
The MEPs tabling the resolution stress that their request is not about time zones. The choice for a time zone is a national competence. Moreover, they stress that their vote is not a choice between summertime or winter time as default time. They ask the European Commission to assess what would be the preferred option. Anyway it should stay a EU competence, they say, not a national competence.
“It would be great if the European Parliament really does makes a strong statement on Thursday: improving lives with better regulation”, says Annie Schreijer-Pierik. “We count on our colleagues. Now is the time!”

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