What begins temporarily and ends permanently
End of the time change from 2021: That's what it's all about
The time change should be abolished. But how will that work? And is the change from summer to winter time really a problem? An overview.
What exactly has the EU Parliament come out in favor of?
On March 26, the EU Parliament voted with a large majority in favor of an end to the time change in autumn 2021. Now the Commission and the member states should agree on a rule that is as uniform as possible by April 2020, so that a patchwork of different time zones is prevented.
What do people think about the time change?
For many people, the time change is a tiresome thing. Around one in four (26 percent) is struggling with health or psychological problems after the switch, according to a recent survey by the health insurance company DAK. 78 percent of Germans think the time change is superfluous anyway.
In fact, the time change in sensitive people can upset the internal clock, which can temporarily lead to tiredness, sleep disorders, fatigue and moodiness. It is true that it is light an hour longer in the evening. But especially in the week after the time change, people are initially significantly more dissatisfied, as researchers found out.
How does the clock change affect the body?
People with severe time restrictions, such as working parents with children, are particularly affected. According to studies, your life satisfaction usually only reaches the starting level in the second week after the changeover. In contrast, inactive adults without children can react much more flexibly - for them everything is usually back to normal in the week after the time changeover.
According to biologists, when switching to summer time, the body reacts similarly to a flight to the east - both are much more difficult than switching to winter time or a flight to the west. It is much easier to slow down the internal clock than to speed it up.
Does the switch to summer time save energy?
Summer time was introduced in Germany in 1980 - for reasons of energy saving. The idea behind this was that less lighting and therefore less electricity would be consumed when the day "shifts" forward by an hour. Critics argue that the time change does not serve its original purpose. Energy saving effects are hardly demonstrable.
When will the daylight saving time be abolished?
The basis for the time change is an EU-wide regulation, according to which Central European Summer Time (CEST) begins in all member states on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October - this year this falls on October 27th.
The EU Commission wants to abolish the time change. It originally planned to do this for 2019, but the member states demanded significantly more preparation time. On Tuesday, the EU Parliament spoke out in favor of abolishing the time change from 2021.
Another problem is the lack of coordination between the EU countries so far. In the future, each country should decide for itself whether it will permanently introduce normal or summer time. It would be possible, for example, for Germany to make a different decision than its neighbors Belgium or France. The EU wants to prevent such a "patchwork of different time zones". That is why the EU states should be given sufficient time to coordinate their plans.
Who is for summer and who is for winter?
The German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine is in favor of maintaining normal time. Daylight, and in particular the blue component of sunlight, is the "main timer" for the human internal clock and is decisive for the wake-sleep rhythm. According to the experts, all of this is best guaranteed by the winter time.
By switching to summer time, however, there is a risk of a lack of sleep, which leads to a loss of concentration and performance as well as more accidents. The German Teachers' Association also fears health risks for pupils in the event of a permanent switch to summer time. This massively increases the likelihood of sleeping and learning problems.
What do the Germans want?
The history of daylight saving time
The fact that clocks determine the rhythm of life and define day and night, working hours and leisure time is quite new in history. Until well into the 19th century, farmers, workers and artisans organized their time according to the position of the sun, climate, natural growth periods or the work they had to do: They did their "day's work" or tilled their "morning" of land. Only in monasteries and at aristocratic courts have sundials, sand clocks and water clocks been used since the Middle Ages; above all they regulated the times of prayer.
Until the end of the 19th century, each place had its own time, which was based on the position of the sun. The capitals of the German states claimed to set the pace for their territory: in Bavaria, the "Munich local time" was used, in Prussia, since 1848, the "Berlin time" was used.
It was difficult for many people that time was not based on nature, but should be thought of as something abstract. But with the increasing importance of the railroad and travel, the importance of a common calendar grew, as the Eichstatt historian Caroline Rothauge is currently determining in her habilitation. Initially, the initiative came from the railway companies.
Global standardization was first sought in 1884 when a conference in Washington decided to divide the world into 24 time zones, each with 15 degrees of longitude. Seven years later, Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke called for the introduction of a German standard time in order to achieve rapid mobilization of the military.
On April 1, 1893, a law signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II came into force, which determined the "mean solar time of the fifteenth degree of longitude east of Greenwich" to be the only valid time in the German Empire - today it is known as Central European Time.
The war, however, turned out to be the father of a changed era. From 1916 the German Empire introduced a summer time to be able to better use the daylight in agriculture and industry. In 1919, at the beginning of the Weimar Republic, this unpopular war measure was reversed. Summer time was also reintroduced in 1940 at the beginning of World War II.
The end of the Second World War then led to a little chaos. When Nazi Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, the clocks were already set to summer time. In the Soviet occupation zone, the clocks were turned one more hour forward on May 24th - this corresponded to Moscow time. Because summer time ended earlier in the western occupation zones, there was a two-hour difference between the two parts of Germany for a week.
Between 1950 and 1979 Germany did not turn the clock. But finally the oil crisis and pressure from other European countries changed the pace again: Behind this was the conviction that better use of daylight could save energy. On April 6, 1980, daylight saving time was reintroduced in both German states, since 1981 it began on the last Sunday in March and ended on the last weekend in September. By 1996, the different summer time regulations in the European Union were also standardized. Since then, Germany has been changing its clocks from the end of March to the end of October (instead of September).
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