Why the hands are set back one hour again

Why the hands are set back one hour again
On Sunday you can sleep an hour longer.
Image: APA/Sebastian Kahnert

On Sunday night it’s that time again: Summer time ends, in Europe the hands are reset by one hour to “standard time” at 3 a.m. This is likely to start discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of this measure again, as an end to the time change at EU level is still a long time coming.

A corresponding Commission proposal from 2018 was already approved by the EU Parliament in spring 2019. Since then, however, the ball has been in the Council’s court, i.e. the EU member states, which have not made a decision since then. However, the member states would have to agree to the abolition by a majority. But the current Spanish Council Presidency currently has no plans to do so either.

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Whether the issue will come back on the table during the Belgian Council Presidency in the first half of 2024 will likely be clear in the coming months when the Belgians present their work program.

The EU Commission’s proposal stipulates that there will be no more time changes. However, it should be up to each member state of the Union to decide whether to switch to summer or winter time all year round. But there were concerns about this plan from many countries, among other things: A uniform time zone appears desirable for the economy, at least in Central Europe. Otherwise, interstate time differences would affect trade even more. By the way, official Austria prefers constant summer time as standard time.

But why did the time change happen in the first place? Summer time was introduced a total of three times in Austria(-Hungary): first from 1916 to 1920, then from 1940 to 1948 and finally again in 1980.

More daylight

The reasons for the change were always economic. An additional aspect came into play during the Second World War: one hour more daylight benefited the armaments industry. Between 1940 and 1942, summer time was maintained all year round, and the change then lasted for another six years.

It finally took until 1980 for clocks to show daylight saving time again – as a result of the oil crisis.

Myths about the time change

  • Energy saving: The introduction of daylight saving time in 1980 was intended to help save energy after the oil crisis. But this didn’t work: While less artificial light is needed in the evenings in summer, more heating is needed in the mornings in spring and autumn.
  • Internal clock gets confused: According to studies, mini jet lag has no health-related consequences
  • Balance of nature is disturbed: Nature does not depend on the clock, but on the position of the sun

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Source: Nachrichten

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