Winter time: this weekend, will we change the time for the last time?

During the night of Saturday 24 to Sunday 25 October, France will switch to winter time (the change to summer time takes place at the end of March). At three in the morning, the clocks will go back 60 minutes and it will be two in the morning again. We will therefore sleep, theoretically, ” one hour more ” an hour of curfew more for tens of millions of French people.

Little-known particularity of the current system: the measure does not concern Oversea territories, which never change time (with the exception of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, which is based on neighboring Canada). Indeed, most of them are in latitudes where the differences in sunshine are low throughout the year, unlike Europe.

A system regularly questioned

Established in 1976 by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to carry out energy savings, in a context of soaring oil prices, the time change should allow human activities to be adjusted to the actual amount of sunshine and thus reduce energy consumption. Almost all European countries eventually adopted this model in the late 1970s.

→ MAINTENANCE. “Energy savings have been marginal”

Since then, studies have shown that the energy savings were real, but less significant than expected due in particular to the gradual introduction of low consumption lamps. This gives grain to grind to its detractors, who invoke negative effects on the sleep and the health. The time change is particularly contested by doctors or parents of school-age children, for its effect on biological rhythms.

In France, an online consultation organized in February 2019 by the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly received more than two million responses, overwhelmingly (83.74%) in favor of ending the time change. Over 60% of those who participated claimed to have had “A negative or very negative experience”.

At what time?

In September 2018, the European Commission proposed to EU member states to abolish the time change from 2019, leaving each country the choice to stay in summer or winter time. In France, during the 2019 consultation, 59% of the participants were in favor of summer time.

Finally, in March 2019, the European Parliament voted to postpone the deletion in 2021, because of the technical difficulties raised by this backtracking. This notably involves encouraging countries to harmonize their choice of legal time, in order to avoid ending up with a patchwork of time zones between neighbors.

However, since December 2019, the project is blocked by the Council of the European Union, which must adopt the proposal for a directive by qualified majority. And the health crisis risks further delaying discussions.


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