Canary Island authorities say they should not be in the same time zone as mainland Spain ‘under any circumstances’ and have asked to form part of the committee due to be set up by national president Pedro Sánchez.
The European Union survey on clock changes, answered by 4.6 million people of whom 80% want to keep the same time all year round, may lead to some countries eventually deciding to remain on summer hours – but in Spain, the debate also centres on whether the nation should return to its pre-war time zone aligned with GMT in winter and BST in summer.
Spain, most of France, Belgium and The Netherlands are all an hour ahead of the time their geographical location dictates they should be, which would be in line with the UK, Republic of Ireland, Portugal and Morocco.
Only the Canary Islands – level with southern Morocco and to the south-west of Portugal – are technically in the correct time zone, being an hour behind the rest of Spain; and, bizarrely, the Spanish city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on Morocco’s northern coast are on mainland Spain time, an hour ahead of Morocco itself.
For the Canary Islands, being on the same time as the mainland – and Balearics, which are well over a thousand kilometres north-east of the region – would mean losing its mention on national radio 24 times a day: each time the clock strikes the hour and is announced on air, the earlier time for the Canary Islands is given.
But regional president Fernando Clavijo believes there are other, additional reasons why the Canaries and the mainland should not be in the same time zone, which he wants to explain and discuss with the committee.
Spanish president Pedro Sánchez announced a taskforce would be set up to debate the results of the EU survey, and Clavijo wants to ensure he or at least one Canarian representative is a member or that, at least, the Canaries are consulted and able to agree on any possible changes.
The committee’s creation does not automatically mean Spain will adopt GMT, or BST, only that this – along with the possibility of keeping the same time year-round – will be discussed.
Whilst it is generally accepted that Spain was moved onto CET by dictator General Franco to align with his allies in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, physics experts and some historians have countered that this was, in fact, a decision made by France’s Général de Gaulle and agreed upon by all of continental western Europe after World War II in order to maintain harmony and prevent future conflict.
Some argue that Spain’s culture of operating an hour later than the rest of Europe, with lunch typically at 14.30, dinner at 21.00 or later, shops opening at 10.00 and workers clocking off at 20.00 or 20.30 at night, is due to the time zone and going back to GMT would see employees getting home earlier and having more time with their families.
Others recall that France, The Netherlands and Belgium have adapted to being in the ‘wrong’ time zone and their daily routine is the same as the rest of Europe’s and that working hours can still follow a more sociable pattern even without GMT.