Daylight savings abolition one step closer after EU Parliament vote

Sunday, March 31st will see the clocks wound forward from 2am to 3am as summer time starts. Yet amid widespread support for adopting summer time all year ‘round, it might be one of the last times Germans wind back the clock.

Daylight savings abolition one step closer after EU Parliament vote
Will this be the last time we wind the clocks back? Image: DPA

The European Parliament’s Traffic Commission has voted 23 to 11 to abolish daylight savings in the EU, effective 2021. 

The vote is not final however, with the Council of Member States still requiring a vote on the matter in order to get a Europe-wide consensus. 

If the Council votes to abolish daylight savings, each member state will have to decide themselves whether or not to implement the change.

This could potentially be problematic, particularly in the case that some member states make the move and others decide against it.

Inconsistencies in international trade along with problems with air and rail traffic have been flagged as potentially problematic should only some European states make the shift. 

As reported by The Local late in 2018, 84 percent of respondents to an online EU-wide survey were in favour of abolishing the time change. In total, 4.6 million respondents took part in the survey, of which three million were based in Germany.

The majority of EU member states are in the Central European Standard Time Zone, meaning the clocks from Berlin to Barcelona show the same time. Recent polls have indicated widespread support for ending the time changes.

SEE ALSO: Everything that changes in March 2019 in Germany. 

Daylight savings time has been in place in the EU since 1996 and in Germany since 1980. Advocates for a change argue that setting the clock back or forward over each year contributes to confusion, poor health outcomes and energy wastage. 


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Brussels warns Italy to rein in public spending amid pandemic

Most EU member states should continue to invest to support the continent's economic recovery, but heavily-indebted Italy should rein in public spending, the European Commission warned on Wednesday.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expects the country's GDP to recover in the coming year. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / POOL / AFP

“The economy is bouncing back from the recession, driven by a rebound in demand across Europe,” EU executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“But we are not out of the woods yet. The economic outlook remains riddled with uncertainty,” he said, warning that the coronavirus is still spreading, prices are rising and supply chains face disruption.

Despite these unpredictable threats, European officials predict a strong recovery, and want eurozone governments to maintain their “moderately supportive fiscal stance” to support investment.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s proposed new budget could affect you

Italy, however, remains a worry. Its public debt passed 155 percent of its GDP last year, and Brussels is worried that it is still budgeting to spend too much next year.

“In order to contribute to the pursuit of a prudent fiscal policy, the Commission invites Italy to take the necessary measures within the national budgetary process to limit the growth of nationally financed current expenditure,” the commission report said.

The commission did not say by how much Italy’s spending plans should be reduced, and its recommendation is not binding on the government.

The European Union suspended its fiscal discipline rules last year, allowing eurozone members to boost their public spending to help their economies survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the European commissioner for the economy, former Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, said governments should now “gradually pivot fiscal measures towards investments”.

“Policies should be differentiated across the euro area to take into account the state of the recovery and fiscal sustainability,” he said.

“Reducing debt in a growth-friendly manner is not necessarily an oxymoron.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, has said Italy’s economy is recovering after the pandemic-induced recession.

Draghi forecast economic growth this year of “probably well over six percent” in a statement on October 28th.

Italy’s GDP rate grew by 2.6% in the third quarter of 2021.

While economists don’t expect Italian GDP to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2022, ratings agency Standard & Poor has revised its outlook for Italian debt from stable to positive.