Stopping the clock on seasonal time changes? Not anytime soon

Efforts to scrap the twice-yearly clock change across the EU have stopped.

Following a massive — mostly German — response to a bloc-wide survey in 2018, the European Commission launched a rapid proposal to scrap the tradition of switching clocks forward an hour in spring and back an hour in the fall.

Under the original schedule, the final switch should have been made in 2019. But a year later, millions of Europeans are preparing to get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning once again with little chance a decision will be taken before 2022.

That’s setting off an interinstitutional blame game.

“You have COVID, Brexit, the [EU budget], a lot of things are on the table, but I had higher hopes on the German [Council] presidency given the interest among their citizens,” said Johan Danielsson, a Swedish socialist MEP who’s now the rapporteur on the initiative.

He wants the Council to hurry up and make up its mind and has sent a letter to the German presidency demanding progress, given that around 70 percent of the responses to the EU survey on the issue came from Germans in the first place.

The EU doesn’t have the competence to impose a single time regime — it can only relax existing EU rules and give countries the freedom to choose.

Still, there’s no sign of imminent progress. The European Parliament gave its approval to the plan last year but the Council has effectively put the issue on ice by demanding the European Commission serve up a detailed impact assessment before countries agree to move forward.

“The federal government considers a Europe-wide impact assessment to be an important prerequisite,” said a spokesperson for Germany’s Economics Minister Peter Altmaier.

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