George Bush gave Americans 4 weeks of lighter evenings. It’s time to do the same in the EU.

Screen Shot 2013-03-30 at 12.37.37I’m no fan of George Bush. But he did do one good thing – he lengthened Daylight Savings Time in the USA by 4 weeks, and made Daylight Saving more symmetrical – now clocks change back in the USA the first Sunday of November (rather than last Sunday of October), and forward the second Sunday in March (rather than the first Sunday in April).

So why not do the same in Europe?

While every Member State of the European Union can choose which time zone it wants to be in, clocks nevertheless all change on the same days – last Sunday in October, and last Sunday in March – across the whole of the EU. This is set in Directive 2000/84/EC.

The problem is that these dates are illogical. The Winter Solstice (the shortest day) is 21 to 22 December, so the autumn clock change is 8 weeks before the solstice, while the spring change is 13 weeks after the solstice. That’s a full 5 weeks in spring time that could logically have an extra hour of light in the evenings, without making the mornings any darker than they already are just before the autumn change. Lighter evenings mean less electricity used in shops, more time for outdoor sports, and all kinds of other benefits.

So then, let’s find an enterprising MEP who wants to look at this in the next Parliamentary term!

(Note this is not the same as the Lighter Later campaign in the UK, that wants to put the UK into a different timezone, although the justification is similar)

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1 comment

  1. french derek

    Jon, my understanding is that it was (and still is) the barbecue and golf equipment suppliers who pushed for the changed US Daylight Savings Time Act.

    As you probably know, France (and more than a few francophone countries) have specified dates for the start of each new season: each of 13 weeks duration (eg Winter started 21 Dec, Spring 21 March). Whilst the current EU summer/winter time changes don’t accord with these, as you persuasively argue, it shows how much the French are tied to fixed “rules”: and how they persuaded the rest of the EU to fall in line with them.

    Given how long it took to get the EU to agree on harmonisation, and given how conservative are the French, I think your brilliant idea has lead in its wings (as the French say).