Why Europe Was Unable to End Daylight Saving Time

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The European Union voted in 2019 end to daylight saving time and was scheduled to stop changing its clocks in late March 2021. Then came Brexit, the pandemic, and international bureaucracy.

Europe won’t be ending daylight savings time yet

People all around the globe would like to see the practice of changing their clocks twice a year due to daylight saving time come to an end. Everyone gets frustrated as it’s a breeze to reset the clock, but not so much when it comes to resetting one’s internal body clock.

In March of 2019, the European Parliament voted to cease the biannual clock changes daylight saving time (DST). That vote meant that the last clock change would occur in October 2020, and in March 2021 the practice of DST would be no more in Europe. But that’s not happening yet.

What is the purpose of daylight saving time?

The practice emerged in the early 20th century as a way of shifting working hours and saving energy by following the sun. However, studies have shown that the disruptive effects of changing the clocks twice a year have been linked to higher rates of car crashes, workplace injuries, heart attacks, street crime, and an overall general crankiness in people.

Continuing DST in Europe: What went wrong?

This month, on 28 March, once again, residents of the European Union will turn their clocks forward by one hour as the practice of daylight saving continues. So far, there is no confirmation from the EU regarding a new date to bring the practice of DST to an end.

While the global health crisis, with its restrictions and lockdowns, is arguably one of the strongest factors in delaying the change to cease the practice of daylight saving time, other factors have complicated the issue. First, there is Brexit. Then there is a messy international bureaucracy that runs through a number of institutions, including the European Council, the EU steering body comprised mainly of heads of state. This group passed the issue over to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, claiming that ending DST couldn’t be changed until the commission had conducted an impact assessment, Bloomberg reported.

Priorities and Preferences Cause Conflict

One of the biggest problems, it appears, is that the governments of Europe currently have more important issues to deal with, namely, the pandemic. The EU states have been too preoccupied dealing with the health crisis, keeping their health systems operating and their economies functioning. The matter of DST has been pushed to the back burner.

Further complicating matters, in light of Brexit, the UK has no immediate plans to end daylight saving time there, despite the idea having wide support.

International preferences are also an issue. Some EU states disagree on how they want to set the clocks. Some favor “permanent summertime,” which is the notion of setting the clock forward and making DST permanent. However, northern countries feel just the opposite and are against brighter evenings versus mornings, which they argue will affect sleep patterns.

Another thing to consider is that many countries that border the EU have already abandoned daylight saving time, including Russia, Turkey, and Belarus. These countries are able to cease DST without causing pandemonium, something the EU can look to in easing its fears.