Those Member States which want to remain on winter hours year-round will not have to change their clocks in the year 2021 until October, MEPs explain.
A continent-wide survey last July and August sought to find out the views of the European Union’s 510 million residents.
This was answered by 4.6 million citizens and revealed that 84% of European residents, rising to 93% of people based in Spain, want to keep summer hours year-round.
This would mean that in Spain, in the deep winter, it would not start to get dark until just before 19.00 and daylight would not begin in the mornings until nearly 09.00, but that the usual summertime daylight hours of about 06.30 to 21.30 would continue.
This goes completely against the views of those who have long advocated Spain return to GMT, which is its natural geographical time zone – in line with the UK, Morocco and Portugal and which is observed in the Canary Islands.
Spain moved forward an hour during the Civil War as dictator General Franco wanted to be in the same time zone as his allies in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, but after the end of World War II, France’s leader Général de Gaulle sought to keep the whole of mainland western Europe on the same time in order to promote peace and harmony.
The Meridian Line runs directly through Spain’s easternmost tip – and a monument to it is set up between the villages of El Verger and Pego in the far north of the province of Alicante, about two kilometres from the coast – showing that, correctly, Spain should be on GMT; a factor that explains a great deal about the country’s ‘unusual’ daily time schedule of lunch at 14.30, evening meal at around 21.00, bed at midnight and shops not opening until 10.00.
But experts in physics point out that Belgium, France and The Netherlands are also an hour ahead of their natural time zone and that societies tend to adapt according to the clock, meaning it is not correct to claim that Spain is still suffering from ‘jet lag’ 80 years on.
MEPs will be urged to reach an agreement on daylight-saving time so as not to cause scheduling chaos within the single market area.
The survey results show that 3.8 million Europeans want to stay on summer hours forever, whilst fewer than three-quarters of a million prefer to keep the existing system.
Greece and Cyprus are among the latter, whilst Finland, Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Hungary want permanent summer hours.
Spain’s government says that at the moment, it is not considering any changes to the current system, but their views may alter if permanent CEST (Central European Summer Time) becomes standard across western Europe.
The country will study the matter between now and March 2021, preferring to wait and see what the post-election EU decides, and the result of MEPs’ vote tomorrow.
It was not, in fact, until 1996 – 23 years ago – when all of Europe began to change their clocks on the same day; the EU decided to streamline the process, not so much to keep the continent on the same three time zones as to end the mayhem created by lack of time coordination, an issue that especially affected the transport and logistics industries.
The clocks go forward one hour at 02.00 in the morning this coming Sunday (March 31), meaning digitally-programmed devices will go straight from 01.59 to 03.00.