The plan to remove the time change is “completely blocked” at European level, says specialist in European issues


“We are still far from agreeing on the solution” on the side of the Council of Ministers of the European Union, assures on franceinfo Patrick Martin-Genier, teacher at Sciences Po-Paris and specialist in European issues.

The project to remove the time change is “completely blocked at the level of the Council of Ministers” of the European Union, explained Saturday, October 24 on franceinfo Patrick Martin-Genier, teacher at Sciences Po-Paris, specialist in European issues, who is author in particular of Does Europe have a future? published by Studyrama. Today, “There is a maximum of two hours difference, three time zones. But tomorrow we could have three hours difference and even more time zones”, failing to reach an agreement, he explains.


franceinfo: Will 2021 really mark the end of the time change, as announced by the European Commission?

Patrick Martin-Genier: We are still far from agreeing on the solution. It is true that the Commission had launched an inquiry after which more than 80% of Europeans had said that they did not wish to change their timetable. This proposal for a directive from the European Commission was adopted by the European Parliament in 2019, but we did not go further. Today, the European Parliament has postponed the deadline from 2019 to 2021, and this proposal is completely blocked at the level of the Council of Ministers because in the end, it is something that is poorly put together, because if we are d he agreement on the principle, in the end, nobody agrees on the modalities, ie some countries prefer the summer timetable, others the winter timetable. In the end, we do not agree at all on the terms of application of this change of schedule.

Everyone agrees to stay on a fixed time, but the northern countries would rather prefer winter time, the southern countries rather summer time?


Yes, that is the real problem. In Germany, for example, for daylight saving time, this was decided without consulting their Danish, Dutch or Czech neighbors who prefer winter time. The French prefer summer time. Moreover, southerners prefer summer time. And finally, for political reasons, others like Estonia refuse to be in the same time zone as Russia.

In the end, today, 17 European countries are at the same time. There is a maximum of two hours difference, three time zones. But tomorrow, we could be three hours apart and even more time zones.Patrick Martin-Genierto franceinfo

It’s a real headache because this initiative is poorly put together and each country would like to be able to change its schedule, which would have very serious consequences on the organization of society, but also on the organization of the economy. .


To hear you, nothing is moving any more.

No, nothing is moving because the Council of Ministers has blocked this directive. We are not even sure that it will be in 2021 that these terms will be changed, because if we agree on the principle, then nobody really agrees. Imagine that tomorrow, we change the time between Germany and France, between the countries of the North and the countries of the South. This will create enormous difficulties, in particular in terms of transport, free movement in the European Union, for frontier workers for example. Imagine that tomorrow, someone works in Strasbourg or the reverse in Germany must pick up their daughter from the nursery when the hours are not the same. It’s going to be a huge mess, so I think we have to harmonize. Moreover, some believe that it is absolutely urgent to wait to agree on the change of schedule in 2021.

But how do you go about harmonizing?


It is at the level of the Council of Ministers and for once, fortunately, we do not need unanimity, there must be a decision by qualified majority, that is to say a reinforced majority, we still have to discuss. So, before arriving at the Council of Ministers, we must have had a good discussion so that we finally find a solution that satisfies most European countries in consultation, because we could not afford a division in terms of time zones for economic organization for the organization of society.


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