After what’s been a miserable winter, Spain will move its clocks one hour forward this weekend to welcome in the spring. That means at 2am Sunday morning it will be 3am. The change is outlined in a European Union directive that affects every member state, and is aimed at shifting the hours of daylight and reducing energy costs.
A study found that more traffic accidents happen in the days following the time change
The EU norm states that all countries must change the clocks twice a year – typically the last Sunday of March and the last Sunday of October. In Spain there are two official time zones: one for the peninsula and the Balearic Islands, and another for the Canary Islands, which have been one hour behind the rest of the country since 1922.
Daylight savings time was introduced during the First World War to keep factories open an hour later, and since 1981, all of Europe has synchronized its watches.
“Last change of time”
But not everyone is a fan of Daylight Saving Time. The time change is said to affect a person’s biorhythms and can be particularly upsetting for the elderly and children. After being pushed by the European Parliament, the European Commission agreed on February 8 to do an exhaustive review on the value of continuing to change the time twice a year.
Fabián Mohedano, from the Catalan Republic Left (ERC), believes “we could be seeing the last change of time.” “The world today is very different,” he says. “Before the amount saved on energy was huge but today in Catalonia it is only around €13 to €14 million a year” – not enough, he thinks, to compensate for “the adjustment, jet lag, which is particularly noticeable on the elderly and young ones.” Mohedano argues that Daylight Saving Time, introduced in part to increase productivity in factories by lengthening working hours, makes less sense today because most people work in the service sector, which uses artificial not natural light.
The European Commission will review the value of Daylight Saving Time
A study by the European Parliament found that more traffic accidents are recorded in the days following the change. It also cites medical studies that say Daylight Saving Time can disturb a person’s Circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle influenced by light, and impact their health. According to the document, energy consumption is only reduced by 0.5% to 2.5%, depending on the location of the EU state.
Three possible outcomes could come from the EU review: Daylight Saving Time could be upheld, abolished – as it was in Russia in 2014 and Armenia in 2012 – or revised to let countries separately decide whether to abandon the biannual adjustment.
Spain: In the wrong time zone for almost 80 years
In 1940, dictator Francisco Franco pulled Spain out of Greenwich Mean Time [GMT+0] as a gesture of goodwill to Nazi Germany. While geographically Spain should be on the same time as the United Kingdom and Portugal, its clocks are in the same zone as countries as far east as Poland.
But switching to GMT is not enough, says Mohedano, who argues you have to separate the debate on Daylight Saving Time and the habits of a country that "eats dinner at 10pm and could be at the pool at 11pm."
English version by Melissa Kitson.