Last year, the European Commission announced that it was planning for a directive to come into effect in 2021 that would mean the end of daylight savings time. However, the Irish government said that it is planning to oppose the proposals, as it would mean that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be in different time zones to each other.
The debate over the future of daylight savings time has been going on for several years. At the moment, the clocks are moved forward in March and moved back in October every year. This was initially introduced to make the most of the natural daylight in the summer months – people were able to get up earlier and make better use of the light.
But, there have been numerous criticisms of this practice. For example, it can make it darker in the mornings in winter, which can pose an issue for children traveling to school in the morning; in some European countries, especially in Northern Europe, it’s still dark when they reach school.
If the practice is abolished, member states would need to decide which time zone they would be in permanently. The UK is opposed to this, and irrespective of Brexit, it could mean that the Republic of Ireland could end up in a different time zone to the rest of the UK. Because of this, Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is seeking approval to oppose the proposal.
Furthermore, there are concerns that the change could result in a “patchwork” of time zones in the European Union. And at a time with growing talks about the unity of Europe, this could be detrimental to the integrity of the union, and especially in the single market.
When Daylight Saving Time (DST) is not applied, European countries currently have three standard time zones: the UK, Ireland, and Portugal apply GMT, 17 states use Central European Time (GMT+1), and the remaining 8 member states use Eastern European Time(GMT+2).
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