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Clocks go back in France again despite EU deal on scrapping hour change

The clocks go back this weekend in France - despite a deal agreed in 2019 to bring to an end the changing between winter and summer time.

The clock at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris
Clocks will change this weekend in France. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

France moves to winter time this weekend, with 3am on Sunday, October 30th marking the moment when clocks go back by one hour, giving most people an extra lie-in on Sunday morning.

In place in the EU since 1976, the twice-yearly changing of the clocks has been controversial for some time and in 2019 lawmakers in the European Parliament voted by a large majority – 410 MEPs against 192 – in favour of stopping the changing of the hour from 2021.

However, following the vote, the Parliament specified that each EU member state would decide whether they would keep summer time or winter time.

In France, public opinion is resoundingly in favour of scrapping the hour change. A public consultation made in early 2019 collected more than 2 million responses, with a majority of French voters wanting to stick with summer time.  

The 2021 deadline to scrap the change, however, was derailed by Covid which disrupted the normal parliamentary timetables in most countries.

But as normal political life resumed after the pandemic, a further problem emerged – although EU countries agree on scrapping the hour change, they cannot agree on whether to stick with summer or winter time.

Having many different EU countries in different time zones would create all sorts of practical problems for travel, business and trade, not to mention the substantial number of cross-border workers who live in one EU country and work in another.

Green MEP Karima Delli told French TV channel BFM in 2021: “The ball is in the court of the Member States.

“We agree on the time change, but what really blocks is: do we stay on summer time or winter time? This is a real problem because the Member States cannot agree.”

She underlined “indirect problems on connectivity, on transport… All this must be organised”, adding: “If I am French and I work in Germany, I am not going to change my watch in the morning and in the evening. We really need harmonisation.”

But with the pandemic followed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and cost-of-living crisis, the hour-change has been gradually slipping further and further down the priority list of both the EU and its member states.

The text on the hour-change is not currently scheduled to be even discussed at the EU level, and it is therefore unlikely that this year’s hour change will be the last.

Member comments

  1. From a UK standpoint, why not abolish summer time and continue with historical GMT and the ball which falls at noon – all based on the zero meridian which passes through Greenwich observatory. It might seem odd that France should retain its summer timing because that would put it two hours ahead of its true midday (and of every other true hour in the day, including change of date). I suggest that “midday” or noon be the moment when the sun is at its zenith over the mid point of a country’s applicable meridian(s), allowing for time zones over oceans and large countries. Looking at the history of changing times seasonally, isn’t there quite a warlike basis for it, back to the late 1800s?

    1. Christ the Englanders aren’t satisfied with messing up our trawlermen now they want to take over our time as well.😀 Just keep it on Daylight Saving Time like we voted for or are the gammons expecting another war to start over fish.👿

      1. Bonjour Boggy, whoever you are. Let’s discuss TIME and leave Christ, “Englanders”, trawlermen and gammons out of it. Starting point which you cannot get away from: noon/midday is when the sun is at its zenith (highest point overhead) wherever you are; the rest is convenience, including important elements of practical necessity.

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