Progress on summer time directive for the European Union

Peter Ilieve peter at
Fri Mar 28 10:54:43 UTC 1997

The Transport Council discussed the proposed Eighth Directive on 11 March
and agreed it, so it moves forward to the next stage, from a Commission
proposal to a Common Position.

Many EU documents are now available on the WWW as the EU have opened
the previously subscription only RAPID database to everyone.
The report of this transport council took a while to arrive but it is
there now. RAPID as available at
The document reference is PRES/97/70, or you can search for `transport council',
or you can try the following long URL for the English text version:|0|RAPID&lg=EN
It is available in PDF as well, and also in French.

The section about Summer Time is quoted below:

The Council reached political agreement by a qualified majority, with
France voting against, on a common position prior to adoption of the
eighth Directive on summer-time arrangements. Once formally adopted,
the common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a
second reading, in accordance with the co-decision procedure.

The aim of the eighth Directive is to harmonize the dates and times for
the beginning and end of summer time throughout the Community for the
period from 1998 to 2001.

In addition, the Council and the Commission approved the following
joint declaration:

"The Council and the Commission consider that the social and economic
implications of the decisions concerning summer-time arrangements justify
thorough examination, which will be effected before the eighth Directive
elapses. For this purpose, the Commission will forward a detailed
report to the Council by 30 June 1999 at the latest, and the Council and
the Commission agree to carry out, with the aid of a group comprising
representatives of interest groups and Member States' national experts,
an in-depth examination of the implications of applying summer-time
arrangements, including the institutional aspects of coordination of
times between the Member States of the European Union."

Furthermore, the United Kingdom made the following unilateral statement:

"The United Kingdom states that, while it has no difficulties with the
substance of the proposed eighth summer-time Directive, on subsidiarity
grounds it considers that Member States' summer-time arrangements would
be best addressed in a Recommendation."

What this means is:

- The eighth directive proposal rules have been accepted.
  These are the same as the current rules (last Sunday in March and last
  Sunday in October). The rules will run until 2001.

- The French have had their request to abandon summer time turned down.
  They have been promised some sort of review in 1999 which might change
  the rules for 2000 and 2001. I personally doubt that anything will
  happen before a ninth directive as there won't be the time to go though
  all the necessary steps between 30 June 1999 and March 2000. These
  people have no sense of deadlines and they will probably all be
  caught up in Millennium projects by then anyway.

- The UK were just stirring things up. Subsidiarity is a Maastricht Treaty
  buzzword meaning that member states should be free to decide things
  for themselves unless it is really necessary for things to be done
  at a European level. A Recommendation rather than a Directive would
  allow states to ignore it and France could abandon summer time if
  it felt like it. It is interesting to see the UK using this
  subsidiarity argument as by doing so they are saying that there is
  no need to harmonise time arrangements in Europe. This means they
  will not be able to use the harmonisation argument next time the
  question of changing the UK's timezone comes up.

The next stage is to let the European Parliament have their say, although
I don't think they have the power to amend it. Then it is finally
confirmed by the Council. This probably won't happen until May.
The UK government then has to pass a Staturary Instrument to implement
the Directive. My guess is that they won't manage this before Parliament
rises for the summer recess so it won't happen until about October.

		Peter Ilieve		peter at

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