Berlin Sleep an hour longer: In Germany, summer time ends at the weekend. Exactly at 3:00 a.m. on October 25th, the clocks will be put back one hour to 2:00 a.m. Then normal time applies again until the end of March, often also called winter time. On March 28, 2021, the hands will be turned back one hour.
The time change should actually be abolished next year, at least that is what the European Parliament decided in 2019. However, nothing has happened in Brussels for a long time. The reasons: There is no impact assessment by the EU Commission, what an abolition of the time change would mean for the economy and the internal market. For the transport and logistics sector in particular, turning away from the current principle would be a challenge.
And: Once again, the member states cannot come to an agreement. Would you prefer to use summer or winter time? And which country is in which time zone? The responses from the capitals are currently a patchwork of times; the preference of one country collides with that of its neighbor.
Korbinian von Blanckenburg, economics professor at the Technical University of Ostwestfalen-Lippe, thinks this is fatal. In his opinion, moving the clocks forwards and backwards does not bring any economic advantages. He also considers it counterproductive if, as a result of the abolition of the time changeover, there should no longer be a uniform time within a large economic zone such as the EU. “Time zone islands are economically a horror,” said von Blanckenburg. Accordingly, it should not be left to the Member States to decide what time they want to stay.
There are three time zones in the EU, the largest of which, Central European Time, extends from Spain to Poland. In the case of permanent summer time, it would not be light until the morning in the west – but also in the northwest – of the continent. In Vigo on the Spanish Atlantic coast, the sun would not rise until 10:01 am on December 21st, and at Brest in Brittany, France 10.07 a.m. and in Emden in northern Germany at 9.45 a.m.
With a permanent winter time, on the other hand, it would not only be dark in the beer garden or in the beach bar an hour earlier than usual. The sun would rise extremely early in the east of the EU: In Bialystok in Poland it would be on June 21 at 3:01 a.m., in Warsaw at 3:15 a.m. and in Berlin at 3:44 a.m.
Time change affects health
For the economist von Blanckenburg, now would be the ideal time to move forward with the decision to change the time. “Thanks to Corona, many companies and other institutions have developed a new level of flexibility,” he said. Home office and online conferences are now part of everyday life. “We are no longer pedantically at eight o’clock in the office, and somehow it still works surprisingly well.”
As an example, the economist cited business trips that are being replaced by online meetings. Schools and universities have also discovered the digital possibilities for themselves. At universities, digital lectures, working groups and meetings are indispensable.
The deputy head of the FDP parliamentary group, Michael Theurer, called on the federal government to use the EU Council Presidency for an initiative to abolish the time change. “It now depends on the federal government to organize a majority for a nationwide abolition of the time change,” Theurer told the Handelsblatt.
The FDP politician pointed out the disadvantages of the time change. They create health problems, especially in children and the elderly. “At the same time, the energy savings targets associated with summer and winter time were not achieved,” said Theurer. Therefore everything speaks in favor of abolishing the time change. “A uniform abolition of the time change in Europe without a patchwork must be achieved.”
Some years ago von Blanckenburg refuted that summer time supposedly helps to save energy. Based on an analysis of the data from two network operators in Kassel and Kempten, he calculated that the current time change system only leads to savings of 0.78 percent in electricity consumption in private households.
Energy savings not serious
From the point of view of the Federal Environment Agency, the current time change regulation does not save a significant amount of energy. Although the light is actually switched on less often in the evening due to the time change in summer, in spring and autumn there is more heating in the morning hours, argues the authority. “That cancel each other out.”
The Office for Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag also came to the conclusion that “at best only very minor energy savings can be achieved”. An evaluation of studies from different countries in 2016 showed possible changes in the areas of electricity consumption and space heating of no more than one percent.
It is proven, however, that the previous back and forth when changing the time has a negative impact on health because our internal clock gets mixed up every time. The health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit writes on the basis of a representative survey that 29 percent of people in Germany suffered from physical or psychological problems after changing the time. They felt limp and tired or had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. 76 percent of those surveyed found that the changeover was superfluous and should be abolished.
With agency material
More: Why the abolition of the time change has failed so far