Germany set to turn back clocks: Will this be the last time?

Germany set to turn back clocks: Will this be the last time?
This Sunday will see clocks across Europe go back one hour. Photo: DPA
It’s that time of year again: on Sunday, clocks across Europe will go back an hour to mark the start of winter time on the continent. But could next year mark the end of twice-yearly ritual?

Spring forward, fall back – a handy mnemonic to remember which way to turn your clock this weekend. 

At 3am on Sunday October 25th, the clock will go back one hour to Central European Time, meaning it will get darker earlier (but offering us all an extra hour’s sleep).

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If the EU Parliament had its way, this practice would come to an end next year. But it remains to be seen if the time change, which is very unpopular amongst Germans, will actually be scrapped. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in October 2020

“The time change should be abolished”, declared former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2018, after 84 percent of those asked in an EU-wide survey voted to scrap it. 

In March 2019, the European Parliament voted with a significant majority to scrap seasonal clock changes as of 2021.

But the ball now lies in the court of individual member states, who each have to decide whether they want to remain permanently on Summer or Winter Time. 

A unified approach?

But making that decision is easier said than done. EU diplomats announced this week that the topic would get no real discussion time for the remainder of Germany’s stint as President of the EU Council this year.

They explained that there are many other topics more pressing than clock changes. The Council itself also shared that it has not yet reached a conclusion on the issue, for that would require “a qualified majority of member states”.

According to the Federal Ministry of Economy, the German government is also yet to make a decision. 

“We believe it is important to ensure that there aren’t certain countries running on a different time to others nearby so that we still have a harmonized internal market” said the Ministry. 

A Europe-wide impact assessment is also needed for “an appropriate and harmonized approach”, it said. 

“The EU Commission has not yet submitted such an impact assessment,” says Minister Peter Altmaier of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

New daylight hours

The consequences of a change to the status quo would be considerable. In the EU there are currently three time zones, the largest of which being Central European Time, which spans from Spain to Poland.

If the clocks switched to permanent Summer Time, it would only get light at mid-morning in the North and North West.

On December 21st in Vigo, on the west coast of Spain, the sun would not rise until 10:01am, while in Brest in the French Province of Brittany it wouldn’t get light until 10:07am.

A permanent Winter Time wouldn’t just mean that bar goers and beach revellers would have to get used to it getting dark earlier.

READ ALSO: More Germans 'suffer health problems after clock changes'

In parts of Eastern Europe, the sun would also rise extremely early: on June 21st, it would start getting light at 03:01am in the Polish town of Bialystok, 03:15am in Warsaw and 03.44am in Berlin. 

Nonetheless, the current clock changes cause problems for many people. According to a survey carried out by health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit, 29 percent of people in Germany suffer from physical or psychological problems after a time change.

They reported feeling limp or tired, as well as having difficulty falling or staying asleep. Another 76 percent of those surveyed found that the changeover was pointless and should be abolished.

The survey carried out by Juncker suggests that Germans are more passionate about the issue than citizens of other EU-countries.

Of the 4.6 million people who took part in the survey, three million came from Germany – although the survey only represented one percent of the total EU population. 

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