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Summer Time

Historically, there were no uniform rules for DST from 1945 to 1966. This caused widespread confusion, especially in transport and broadcasting. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 aligned the switch dates across the USA for the first time.

Summer Time


Summer time in Europe is the variation of standard clock time that is applied in most European countries (apart from Iceland, Belarus, Turkey and Russia) in the period between spring and autumn, during which clocks are advanced by one hour from the time observed in the rest of the year, with a view to making the most efficient use of seasonal daylight. It corresponds to the notion and practice of daylight saving time (DST) to be found in some other parts of the world.

In all locations in Europe where summer time is observed (the EU, EFTA and associated countries), European Summer Time begins at 01:00 UTC/WET (02:00 CET, 03:00 EET) on the last Sunday in March and ends at 01:00 UTC (02:00 WEST, 03:00 CEST, 04:00 EEST) on the last Sunday in October each year; i.e. the change is made at the same absolute time across all time zones. European Union Directive 2000/84/EC makes the observance of summer time mandatory for EU member states (except overseas territories), though a proposal to repeal this directive and require that member states observe their own choice[note 1] year-round is currently going through the legislative process as of July 2020[update], but has not seen progress since October 2020.[1]

Since 1981, each directive has specified a transition time of 01:00 UTC and a start date of the last Sunday in March, but the end dates have differed. Successive Directives laid down two dates for the end: one on the last Sunday in September applied by the continental Member States, and the other on the fourth Sunday in October for the United Kingdom and Ireland.[2] In 1996 the end date was changed to the fourth Sunday in October for all countries.[3] In 1998 the end date was changed to the last Sunday in October; this happened to be the same as the previous rule for 1996 and 1997.[4] The ninth directive, Directive 2000/84/EC, currently (2018) in force, specifies this rule.[5]

There were proposals in 2015 and 2016 from members of the European Parliament to abolish summer time observance, but the European Commission did not at that time put forward proposals to be considered, saying it had not found conclusive evidence in favour of a change, and member states were divided. It did, however, note that a cost would be incurred if harmonisation between member states' summer time rules was lost.[6][7] In 2017 the Finnish and Lithuanian parliaments both voted in favour of proposals calling on the EU to reconsider daylight saving, with similar criticism from Poland and Sweden. The European Commission at the time was reviewing the practice.[8][9]

Under the proposal, member countries were expected to decide by 31 March 2019 which time they would observe year round. This was however considered a fairly tight timescale by many.[14][15] The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which coordinates changes to the time zone database used by most computers and smartphones, notes that "With less than a year's notice there is a good chance that some computer-based clocks will operate incorrectly after the change, due to delays in propagating updates to software and data."[16] The airline industry pointed out the complexity of revising all airline schedules, particularly in terms of ensuring slot availability on flights outside the EU, and recommended keeping the status quo or deferring the change until at least 2021.[17] An informal meeting of EU transport ministers on 29 October 2018 suggested that many member states would not support the "unrealistic" timetable and that implementation could be pushed back to 2021.[15]

On 4 March 2019, the European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee approved the Commission's proposal by 23 votes to 11. The start date was, however, to be postponed until 2021 at the earliest, to ensure a smooth transition, and the Commission is to ensure that countries' decisions to retain winter or summer time are coordinated and do not disrupt the internal market.[23] This decision was confirmed by the full European Parliament on 26 March; it must now be approved by the Council of the European Union.[24] As of November 2021, this approval has not yet been obtained.[25] Under the draft directive, member states would have chosen whether to remain on their current summer time, in which case the last transition would have been on the last Sunday of March 2021, or their current winter time, which would have taken permanent effect from the last Sunday of October 2021.[26]

A consultation by the Irish government found that 80% of those surveyed would not support any measure that resulted in different time zones between Northern Ireland and the Republic. In July 2019, Ireland announced its opposition to the proposed directive and intends to lobby other EU states on the issue. A qualified majority of 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the European population is required for the Council of Ministers to implement a directive.[27] In the UK, the House of Lords launched a new inquiry in July 2019 to consider the implications of the European changes, explore the preparations that should be made and the factors that should inform the UK's response.[28] The United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020, before any reform became effective; EU rules continued to apply during the transition period (up until 31 December 2020) but thereafter the UK could choose to make its own arrangements.[29][30] If the UK were thus to continue observing summer/winter time, Northern Ireland would have a one-hour time difference for 30 or 31 weeks of the year either with the rest of Ireland or with the rest of the UK.[31] In September 2018, the UK Government said that it "has no plans" to end daylight saving.[32]

Some may be thought of as using "permanent" summer time, since they use time zones allocated to regions further east than themselves. Belarus explicitly decided to stay permanently on (what it formerly called) summer time after 2011.

Spain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands may also be thought of as observing "summer time" throughout the winter, and "double-summer time" during summer, because of their positions to the west of the central European time zone.

In most of Europe, the word Summer is added to the name of each European time zone during this period: thus, in the UTC+01:00 time zone, Central European Time becomes Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00).

Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia as summer time was introduced in 1983. Yugoslavia was the last country in Europe introducing summer time. After gaining independence in the Croatian War of Independence in 1992, Croatia followed the Central European way to change the time on the last Sunday of March and on the last Sunday of October, respectively on the last Sunday of September till 1995.

During World War II, when the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia became a de facto part of Nazi Germany, summer time was used from 1940. In 1940/1941 and 1941/1942, summer time was kept continuously even during the winter.

Part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland observes Summer Time simultaneously with Europe. Summer Time thus begins at 00:00 East Greenland Time on Sunday, and 22:00 West Greenland Time on Saturday, and ends at 01:00 EGST on Sunday and 23:00 WGST on Saturday. It was introduced in 1980 when Greenland was legally a part of Denmark without local rule. The most other EU Overseas countries and territories do not observe summer time. Exceptions, based on company decisions, are the northeastern coast around Danmarkshavn (UTC year-round) for Thule Air Base (which follows Atlantic Time and observes in accordance with US and Canadian rules).

From 1923 until the Second World War, France and Monaco observed summer time from the last Saturday in March until the first Saturday in October. During the Second World War France also observed summer time. However, after the war the practice was abandoned (since the country changed time zones instituting de facto permanent summer time). In 1976, summer time was reimplemented because of the oil crisis.[43]

Since UTC+00:00 is France's "natural" time zone (extreme points correspond to UTC-0:20 to UTC+0:38), its use of UTC+01:00 in winter could be seen as a form of daylight saving time, while its use of Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00) in summer can be seen as a form of "double summer time".[44]

Summer time was first introduced during World War I by the German Empire from 1916 to 1918. After the end of the war and the proclamation of the Weimar Republic in November 1918, summer time ceased to be observed. Summer time was reintroduced in 1940, during World War II, to try to save energy for the war economy. After the defeat of Germany, summer time was retained by the occupation powers. In 1945, Berlin and the Soviet Occupation Zone even observed Central European Midsummer Time (Mitteleuropäische Hochsommerzeit, MEHSZ; GMT+03:00): in 1947, all of Germany switched to midsummer time from 11 May to 29 June. After the Federal Republic (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) were established in 1949, summer time again ceased to be observed in 1950.

In 1978, West Germany decided to reintroduce summer time, following the example set by several neighbouring states in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis. However, it only came into effect in 1980, after West and East Germany reached an agreement to observe summer time simultaneously from the last Sunday in March (02:00 CET) to the last Sunday in September (03:00 CEST). Thus both German states observed the same time until the German reunification in 1990, after which the reunified Germany retained the laws and thus also the Time Act (Zeitgesetz) of West Germany.

Büsingen am Hochrhein, a small exclave of Germany entirely surrounded by Swiss territory, did not implement summer time in 1980 but observed the same time as Switzerland; thus there was a one-hour time difference between this village and the rest of Germany. For the tz database, the zone Europe/Busingen was created in its 2013a release,[46] because since the Unix time epoch in 1970, Büsingen am Hochrhein has shared clocks with Zurich, but not with Germany every year.[47] 041b061a72


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