(CN) – In a move destined to confuse tourists and cross-border workers alike, the European Commission said Wednesday it will push to end seasonal clock changes in 2019 – and let member states decide “whether their citizens live in summer or wintertime.”
Since 1980, the European Union has had a unified schedule for seasonal clock changes. But in his State of the Union address Wednesday, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the issue should be a states’ rights one.
“We all say in soapbox speeches that we want to be big on big things and small on small things. But there is no applause when EU law dictates that Europeans have to change the clocks twice a year,” Juncker said. “Clock-changing must stop. Member States should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer- or wintertime.
“I expect the Parliament and Council will share this view and find solutions that work for our internal market. We are out of time.”
And the commission intends to move quickly on the issue, likely to capitalize on exceedingly strong public support – a record 4.6 million Europeans weighed in during a public consultation held this summer and 84 percent want to ditch clock changes.
The commission said if EU lawmakers approve of dumping time changes, member states must decide by April 2019 whether they will daylight saving or standard time. Just before that, the full EU will have its final seasonal shift, to what Europeans call “summer time” on March 31.
Member states wishing to stay on “winter time” – the US equivalent of standard time – may make their permanent change on Oct. 27, 2019. No states will be permitted to continue the seasonal clock-changing scheme so that “proper functioning of the internal market” is ensured, the commission said.
“This very ambitious timetable will allow citizens to reap the benefits without delay,” transport commission Violeta Bulc said in a statement. “We are now inviting member states and businesses to make the necessary preparations to ensure a coordinated approach across the EU.”