EU requests that the UK scraps Daylight Saving Time

Cardiff Bay at sunset: Will the UK choose Summer or Winter Time? Source: Robin Drayton

By Hallum Cowell

Despite Brexit, the UK will still have to carry out the EU commission’s decision of permanently sticking to either summer-time or winter-time. For over a century the clocks have gone back an hour in autumn and forward an hour in the spring. The change was established in 1907 by William Willet who wanted people to stop wasting valuable daylight hours. The current time plan was then adopted in 1916.

The European Commission has stated that the current ‘daylight saving’ system is no longer necessary in the modern day, and processes are underway to remove it throughout Europe. They called the change “essential”, arguing it is necessary to “safeguard the proper functioning of the internal market and avoid disruptions by uncoordinated action by member states”. The Commission added it was worried about “potential disruption to the scheduling of transport operations and the functioning of information services”.

The move comes after a recent online poll carried out by the Commission which found that 84% of European citizens wanted to be rid of switching between Summer and Winter Time. A YouGov poll conducted in 2011 also found that 53% of British people are in support of scrapping the current system, and some people have argued that the change forward to British Summer Time makes people more tired and therefore causes more accidents. However, when the permanent British Summer Time was trailed in Scotland between 1968 and 1971, a record number of people were killed in accidents. On the other hand, the time change arguably can boost business, and it is said that even just one extra month alone of ‘daylight saving’ time could generate up to £246.6 million a year in extra sales and fees.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents stated “[the charity] is calling for a trial of Single/Double Summer Time (SDST), which would see the clocks move forward an extra hour while retaining daylight savings – so in the winter we would be on GMT+1 and in the summer we would be on GMT+2. RoSPA believes that, were the UK to have lighter evenings year-round, multiple lives could be saved, with many more people protected from the ‘‘serious, life changing injuries and heartbreak that road accidents cause”.

No decision has been made by the UK government as of yet, but at some point we must commit to residing in either permanent Summer or Winter Time. Whatever the change to our timing system may be, it will occur at some point during the Brexit transition period and will therefore apply to the UK as we are still officially a member state of the EU. All members have to notify the Commission by April 2019, and since the Brexit transition period has recently been lengthened to December 2020 we are included in this.

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