Tick tock: time change website opens for consultation today

Members of the public can have their say on whether Finland should keep summer and winter time, or move to another time zone completely.

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File picture showing various watches / Credit: iStock

A new online survey about whether Finland should call time on seasonal clock changes is open from today.

It lets people in Finland express their views on what the country’s standard time should be in future: keeping clocks at summer time, moving clocks to winter time, or switching to some other time zone completely.

The results of the online survey – available here in Finnish & Swedish – will be used to prepare Finland’s position on a proposed EU directive about summer and winter time across the continent.

Finland has moved the clocks for summer time since 1981, but now the European Commission is proposing that the practice of daylight saving time be ended.

That Commission’s directive was sparked by a Finnish peoples’ initiative to parliament where tens of thousands voted to end the practice of moving the clocks back one hour in the winter, and stick to Finnish summer time all year round.

EU countries free to decide

The Commission proposal leaves EU member states free to decide their standard time. After the decision has been made, states will not be able to switch the time according to seasons – but, countries can still decide themselves which time zone they want to apply.

According to existing statute in Finland, summer time begins on the last Sunday of March at 03:00 as the time springs forward one hour; and summer time ends on the last Sunday of October at 04:00 when the clocks wind back one hour.

That means summer time lasts for seven months of the year, and winter time goes on for five months.

Impact of time shift?

The time switch might have a positive impact for health, according to a Finnish government study.

While businesses will be affected if Finland’s time stays the same as Sweden for example.

If seasonal time changes end, the choice of the permanent standard time will affect the number of daylight hours in the evening and morning.

If summer time was to be adopted as the permanent standard time, evenings would, on average, be somewhat lighter and mornings darker; and if the choice for the permanent standard time would be winter-time, mornings would, on average, be somewhat lighter and evenings darker.

So, what happens next?

After – as you might imagine – a lot of red tape within the halls of power in Brussels, each EU country can decide which time zone it will adopt.

In Finland, the directive will be discussed in parliament, where the official position will be formed, using the new online survey as a guide to public opinion.

If Finland decides to change its time zone or end daylight savings time shifts in the summer, it will be ultimately decided by parliament.

Debate has been fast paced in Finland, where the Ministry of Transport’s website crashed recently as people got online to have their say.

The online survey is open until 12th October.