Early this Sunday morning, Greeks must remember to turn their clocks back one hour as the country settles into the late Autumn and readies for Winter. As of that day, Greece will no longer be in Summer time.
Some may remember that just two years ago, the European Union had ruled that member nations should ideally relegate Daylight Savings Time to the past, beginning in 2021, avoiding the annual Autumn time change which results in the apparent immediate loss of daylight in the afternoon.
However, this measure may very well not come to pass, as it seems apparent that the EU does not actually possess the power to regulate time across all the nations belonging to the Union.
It was long thought beneficial by the powers that be in Brussels that getting rid of daylight savings time would not only be less disruptive but would save precious electricity in the months in which it is used the most.
The requisite studies had been carried out showing the array of benefits to be gained by the elimination of the time change as well, with all the relevant EU officials and MEP’s maintaining that the decision is based in scientific fact.
Originally meant to save power during wartime
Originally, daylight savings time had been instituted as a way to save power during wartime and when electricity was needed the most– something that is hardly the case in Europe today. In addition, it has been claimed that not pushing the time back one hour, remaining on Summer time, helps in the reduction of traffic accidents and even improves the circadian rhythms of the human body.
Former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had stated flatly back in 2018 “We carried out a survey, millions responded, and believe that in future, Summer time should be year-round, and that’s what will happen. The people want it, we’ll do it.”
At the time, it seemed like a slam-dunk which everyone could agree would benefit the citizens of all nations.
However, it is clear now that the Commission itself has no such power to simply decree that all member nations employ daylight savings time or not. Conversely, it is a decision which must be made by each and every national government in the Union.
Naturally, all the countries in Europe have wide differences regarding the lifestyles of their residents, their geographic location, the amount of daylight each one receives in the winter and the prominence of tourism in each locale.
Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea, is increasingly reliant on tourism and as such desires that the country stay on Summer time year-round, while neighboring Slovenia, having more wintertime holiday spots, prefers to remain on daylight savings time permanently.
Clearly, this would be an immediate issue for travelers, creating a nightmare for those who are planning trips across several time zones just within the heart of Europe. In addition, the creation and widespread use of LED lighting and other electricity-saving devices has lessened the need for such stringent measures as changing the time every Autumn.
Pundits have noted that the coronavirus pandemic also brought several related issues to light regarding the inability of the EU to impose any uniform regulations across its member nations, as evidenced by the enormous traffic jams which resulted after some nations closed their borders without coordinating these rulings with their neighbors.
Although the matter was quickly resolved by voluntary cooperation between the states regarding border closures, legally each state still has the right to manage its borders.
Not long ago, electronic clocks were several minutes off in mainland Europe, simply because of a misunderstanding regarding electrical grids in the Balkans.
The wonders of technology that are currently accessible by all European countries certainly would allow for every kind of coordination regarding any permanent time change ruling.
EU has no power to impose time ruling
However, the pandemic of 2020 has brought to light issues which many hoped would stay on the back burner, including the inability of the Commission to set EU-wide rulings such as a permanent time change.
The EU’s various bodies have little legal standing to even impose rulings regarding all-important health policy, not to mention the more peripheral issues such as the use of daylight savings time.
Talks addressing the time change, initially agreed upon in 2019, have by now gone by the wayside, showing that the issue has lost its urgency, and the March 2021 deadline for the abolishing of daylight savings time seems impossible to meet at present.
It appears at present that, despite the popular sentiment to do away with daylight savings time and the many studies which back the move, the actual decision to abolish the Autumn ritual in Europe will not be taken anytime in the near future — forcing us to complete that semiannual chore of turning every clock in our homes back one hour.