Special Report

Daylight Saving Time? Non, Merci, Say the French

The French are apparently tired of changing their clocks twice a year.

European Union regulations have long required members to observe the spring-ahead/fall-behind reset “in order to cater for the changing patterns of daylight.” The EU specifies that clocks switch over to summer time — what we’d call daylight saving time — on the last Sunday of March each year, going back to winter time on the last Sunday of October.

In a just-concluded online “consultation” with more than 2.1 million French men and women, conducted by the French National Assembly’s European Affairs Committee, some 84% declared that they were fatigué with the twice-yearly time change. About 60% of those want the clocks to stay on summer time all year long — with the rest unaccountably preferring the winter setting.

An EU-wide survey last year found that 84% of the 4.6 million citizens of various member countries who responded were likewise in favor scrapping the time changes. In response, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has asked that the rules be altered, allowing each country to choose between summer and winter hours, without changing the clocks throughout the year.

Many non-European nations have already made the choice; some have done so for health reasons. South Africa, portions of Australia, and numerous countries in South America and Asia are among the places that keep their clocks on a single time setting all year long.

Opponents of doing away with the current system in Europe complain that it could affect transport timetables, computer systems, and livestock feeding schedules. In any case, the change won’t happen for a while. European Parliament members voted to delay acting on the issue until 2021 at the earliest.