BRUSSELS. She hands forward, hands backward. The increasingly existential doubt of the European Union about summer time and solar time is renewed. In the wake of the energy crisis and the need to cut bills, one of the hottest debates ever reignites. Patrizia Toia (Pd / S & D), Vice-President of the Industry Committee of the European Parliament, invites the European Commission to retrace its steps, with a question on the subject that risks disrupting all the work conducted also in the European Parliament.
Toia begins to make two calculations. In the question, he refers to estimates according to which “maintaining daylight saving time would allow Italy alone to save about 2.7 billion euros in a year”. While at the EU level the definitive abandonment of the change towards solar time could produce “energy savings of about 400 euros per family”. The suggestion is therefore to stop adjusting the clocks at the end of October, in stark contrast to what the Commission and Parliament have decided so far.
In the EU there is a directive dedicated to time slots. It dates back to 2001, and establishes that every year on the last Saturday of October the hands must be set back one hour, and then, on the last Saturday of March, they must be set back one hour. A ritual that for years has divided the Europe of the states, with those in the north closest to the north pole who would like to abolish the change of the time to always remain linked to solar time.
In 2018, the European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, conducted a public consultation which revealed the indication to abolish the dual time regime. A consultation subject to criticism. Because it is not very publicized, first of all.
Then because it saw the participation of 4.6 million people, that is to say less than 1% of the then EU population (the United Kingdom had not yet left). Moreover, about 3.2 million of the 4.6 million total participants were German. In short, a blitz that produced a heated confrontation, culminating in the Commission’s proposal to abolish summer time and supported by the European Parliament as early as 2019. The Council’s position is missing and continues to be lacking. Here the Member States split. There are fears of repercussions on the functioning of the internal market, additional costs for businesses and the Commission has been asked to produce evidence on the convenience of abolishing seasonal hours. The impasse in the Council led Parliament to approve, in March last year, a motion to put pressure on the dossier.
The original Commission proposal wanted the abolition of summer time starting from 2021, but the dossier blocked in the Council did not make regime change possible. It goes on as usual, with the double change of hands in late March and late October. Now, however, the energy crisis is calling everything into question.
The community executive will have to provide a written response, expected for no earlier than 30 days. But the impression is that between the conflict in Ukraine, the risk of recession, measures to calm energy prices, the question of time may not represent a priority for the Commission. In the meantime, however, a debate is relaunched, which is also entirely internal to the Democratic Party. Before today, the Democratic Party was among those who opposed the abolition of summer time to maintain the double time change. Now, instead, live the summer time.