EU to stop changing the clocks in 2019

The EU is doing away with the twice-yearly clock changes and has given member states until April to decide if they will remain on summer or winter time. But there are fears Europe is heading for time-zone chaos.

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc on Friday announced that the EU will stop the twice-yearly changing of clocks across the continent in October 2019.

The practice, which was used as a means to conserve energy during the World Wars as well as the oil crises of the 1970s, became law across the bloc in 1996.

All EU countries are required to move forward by an hour on the last Sunday of March and back by an hour on the final Sunday in October.

Bulc said EU member states would have until April 2019 to decide whether they would permanently remain on summer or winter time. 

Read more: Summertime: What a joke!

What time is it in Brussels?

Bulc said she was counting on member states and the European Parliament to keep pace with the Commission's "ambitious" schedule. She also noted the need to find consensus among the member states in order to avoid confusing time jumps.

The plan also raises the prospect of neighboring countries ending up an hour apart.

"In order to maintain a harmonised approach we are encouraging consultations at national levels to ensure a coordinated approach of all member states," Bulc said.

The decision to tackle the issue was prompted after the Commission launched an online survey. Some 4.6 million Europeans answered the survey — three million of those respondents were from Germany — with 80 percent of them voting to scrap the practice.

Though critics say that is only a small percentage of the bloc's population, the European Commission argues it is doing what voters expect of it: dealing with big issues.

Health problems and little savings

Those who oppose daylight savings say that it has become obsolete thanks to other more efficient energy-saving technologies such as LED lights. "We are clearly headed toward smart cities, smart buildings and smart solutions which will bring much more savings than changes of the clock," said Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.

Critics have also cited long-term health problems, sleep-related issues and the reduced concentration that often accompanies the twice-yearly change. Proponents of daylight savings have long argued that it benefits public safety as well as saving energy.

Infografik Zeitzonen EU EN

Merkel is a fan

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in favor of the move, telling German public broadcaster ZDF: "The people want it, so we will do it." And German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently spoke on the topic during a trip to Nigeria, saying: "I personally think it's a very high priority."

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

The clock at the Town Hall in Prague

The Astronomical Clock at Prague Town Hall from 1410 is a masterpiece of Gothic technology. According to legend, after completion the eyes of the builder were plucked out so that the watch would remain unique in the world. And it is unique! After nine months of restoration, the 12 apostles have once again delighted visitors to Prague's Old Town with their puppet play.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

Big Ben in London

Europe's most famous clock tower stands in London. Big Ben is only the nickname of the tower, because it is actually called Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben correctly refers to only the largest and heaviest of the five bells. The "Voice of Britain" tune played by the bells usually chimes every hour. The next few years, however, the bells remain silent, because the tower is being renovated.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

World Time Clock in Berlin

The world time clock on Alexanderplatz is of a more recent model. It was designed in East German times by industrial designer Erich John and in 1969 presented to the public. Since then it has become a popular meeting place for Berliners and tourists. At the top is a simplified model of our solar system and the cylinder below shows the time in the 24 time zones of the earth.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

Clock of Flowing Time in Berlin

A less well-known but all the more interesting clock is located in Berlin's Europa-Center. The 13-meter (43-foot) high chronometer from 1982 covers three floors. Here you can watch the flow of time. The level of green liquid in the large spheres on the left shows the hours, the small spheres on the right the minutes.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

Zytglogge clock tower in Bern

When it comes to clocks, Switzerland is a must-see. The Zytgogge, the clock tower from 1530, is the landmark of the capital Bern. On the hour tourists can always watch the game of figures depicting the golden hour beater, the cock and Chronos, the god of time.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

Astronomical Clock in Strasbourg

This masterpiece of the Renaissance inside Strasbourg Cathedral was also built by Swiss clockmakers. The apostles and the four ages, personified as children, juveniles, adults and the elderly, start moving every day at 12:30 p.m. They all pass by death.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

The world's largest cuckoo clock in Triberg

Cuckoo clocks alongside Bollenhut red bobble hat and cherry and chocolate gateau are the symbols of the Black Forest in southern Germany. So it is no wonder that the world's largest cuckoo clock can be found here in Triberg. The movement alone weighs six tons! The cuckoo is impressive — to the full and half hour the 4.5-meter wooden bird calls from its window on the first floor.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

The Glockenspiel in Munich

Two or three times a day, the glockenspiel figures make their big appearance at Munich City Hall. The life-size figures depict two events from Munich's city history: the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V. in 1568 and the cooper's dance depicting their defiance after a devastating plague epidemic. As historic as the glockenspiel is, it is operated with solar energy in a very modern way.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

The Anchor Clock in Vienna

Vienna's best-known clock adorns a small bridge between the two parts of the Anker-Hof building on the Hohe Markt square. The clock was designed by the Art Nouveau painter Franz Matsch. Within twelve hours twelve copper figures from Vienna's history cross the bridge. At 12 noon accompanied by music all the figures parade, among them Empress Maria Theresia and composer Joseph von Haydn.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

The Clock Tower in Graz

In Austria, the Clock Tower of Graz, located on the Schlossberg, is visible from afar. Its special feature is that the hour and minute hands are reversed. Originally there was only one large hand for the hours, so that it could be seen from a distance. Later, the small minute hand was added.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

Torre dell'Orologio in Venice

The Astronomical Clock on St Mark's Square displays not just the time, but also the current zodiac sign as well as the phases of the moon and the sun. Until the last restoration in 1998, the "Temperatore," the tower guard, lived in the tower with his family. Since 2006, the clock has been digitally monitored.

The most beautiful clocks in Europe

The House of Magic in Blois

This is not a real clock, but the dragon heads in the French city of Blois still keep time. Every half hour they appear at the windows and move in a terrifying way. Behind the façade is a museum that provides a glimpse into the history of magic, because the father of modern magic, Robert-Houdin, was born in Blois.

js/rt (dpa, Reuters) 

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