EU clock change plan opposed by Irish cabinet

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Daylight saving time (DST) – so-called summer time – has been compulsory in the EU since 2001

The Irish government will oppose an EU proposal that would end seasonal clock changes because it could result in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland being in different time zones.

The European Commission last year announced it was planning a directive to come into effect in 2021.

It would abolish the twice yearly changes, making member states decide which time zone they wanted to remain in permanently.

The UK is also opposed to the proposal.

  • European MPs vote to end summer time clock changes
  • Commission proposes ending daylight saving time

Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was seeking the approval of his ministerial colleagues to oppose the proposal and to lobby other EU states on the issue.

A qualified majority – 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the EU’s population – is needed for the plan to be implemented.

The Irish government believes it cannot agree to any move that could result in different time zones on the island of Ireland, irrespective of Brexit.

It also fears that the proposed change could lead to a “patchwork” of time zones across the EU at a time when there is a lot of EU talk about the integrity of the single market.

What are the EU’s time zones?

During the winter, spring and autumn, when Daylight Saving Time (DST) is not applied, there are three standard time zones:

  • Three states apply GMT (the UK, Ireland and Portugal)
  • 17 have Central European Time (CET), which is GMT+1
  • Eight have Eastern European Time, which is GMT+2.

The Irish government carried out an extensive consultation that involved government departments and the public.

It found that people would generally favour brighter evenings in winter, but more than 80% of those surveyed would not support any measure that created different time zones on the island.

Other submissions raised concern about the effect that abolishing the time changes would have on farm life and children going to school in the dark.

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