Should the UK continue to spring forward and fall back?

11 Feb 2020 02:32 PM

EU Internal Market Sub-Committee publishes its report on the future of clock changes.


The report examines the implications for the UK of the European Commission's proposal to end seasonal clock changes in the EU. It considers the two alternative scenarios arising for the UK, should the proposal be adopted: non-aligning, and having a varying time difference with EU neighbours; or aligning, and having to adopt either winter-time or summer-time on a permanent basis. While non-alignment could negatively affect businesses and people in Northern Ireland, a permanent time zone could have major implications for other UK citizens, particularly in Scotland and the north of England.

The report finds that considerably more evidence would be needed for the Government to make that complex decision. The Government should therefore undertake preparatory work, including by reviewing or commissioning relevant research on how clock changes affect a range of issues, from health and road safety to trade, and devising a strategy for consultation.

In October 2018, this Committee published a Subsidiarity Assessment of the Commission’s proposal to end clock changes, where it took the view that the issue did not warrant action at EU level and the proposal was therefore a breach of subsidiarity. This Assessment was agreed by the House and submitted as a formal Reasoned Opinion, or ‘yellow card’, to the European Commission. The inquiry has only reinforced the Committee’s view that action on clock changes at EU level is unwarranted. 

Chair's quotes

Chair of the EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, Baroness Donaghy, yesterday said:

“So far the Government has stuck its head in the sand on the EU Commission’s proposal, hoping that it goes away. However, if it doesn’t, we could be caught unaware and unprepared to make a decision, leaving the island of Ireland with two time zones at different times of the year and causing difficulties for people and businesses in Northern Ireland. “

“This is a complex issue with a range of consequences for different industries and people in the United Kingdom. If the UK chose to align itself with the EU, it would need to decide which permanent time zone it should adopt. Before making a final decision, the Government must fully examine the implications of aligning or non-aligning with the EU, look at and where necessary commission relevant research and give the public and other stakeholders an opportunity to have their say.”

Key findings

Further information