MEPs vote to end summer and winter time switch in 2021

Each EU country will have to decide which time it wants to stick to, with clocks changing for the last time in March or October 2021, depending on member states' choices

MEPs have voted to delay the ending of the seasonal clock change to 2021
MEPs have voted to delay the ending of the seasonal clock change to 2021

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a proposal to end the practice of switching between summer and winter time in 2021.

Each European Union member state will have to decide which time it wants to stick to, with those opting for summer time making their final clock change on the last Sunday of March 2021, and those preferring to keep to their standard (winter) time adjusting their clocks for the last time in October 2021.

While MEPs backed the Commission’s proposal for an end to bi-yearly clock change, they voted to postpone the date for this from 2019 to 2021.

Protecting the single market

MEPs also want EU countries and the Commission to coordinate the decisions to ensure that the application of summer time in some countries and winter time in others does not disrupt the internal market.

If the Commission finds that the foreseen time arrangements could significantly, and permanently, hamper the proper functioning of the single market, it may submit a proposal to postpone the date of application of the directive by a maximum of 12 months, the text adopted by the European Parliament stipulates.

The next stage after the adoption of the text will be a negotiation process with EU ministers on the final wording of the rules.

Responding to citizens’ initiatives, in February 2018, the European Parliament had called on the Commission to assess the summer time arrangements directive, and, if necessary, present a proposal for the directive to be revised.

Following the assessment, which received 4.6 million responses, of which 84% were in favour of ending the clock changes, the Commission tabled the proposal, which will now need to be agreed upon between the Parliament and EU ministers.

The EU first unified the summer time arrangements in 1980, in order to ensure a harmonised approach to time switching within the single market, as until then, national summer time practices and schedules were diverging. The current summer time arrangements directive requires EU countries to switch to summer time on the last Sunday of March and back to standard time on the last Sunday of October.

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