Time is making the headlines

  05.04.2019 Local News

For the last few days, we've been going to work in the mornings in the dark again but enjoying a beer in the sunshine after work (except for the recent snow, of course…). Soon, however, Europe may abolish the clock change. Switzerland will probably have to follow suit, but it’s anyone's guess what the new time zone will be.

Switzerland has no desire to be a time zone island

Many European countries introduced the time change in 1977 to save energy in response to the 1973 oil crisis. At that time, Switzerland spoke out against this and held a referendum, remaining on Central European Time (CET) for the entire year and becoming a time zone island along with Lichtenstein. In 1981, the Swiss parliament allowed the Federal Council to enforce summer time due to difficulties in coordinating with neighbouring countries.

A possible referendum

Basically, the EU Parliament wants to leave member states to choose their own time zone. However, a coordinating committee will be involved to prevent this option from creating a real hotchpotch. 

Switzerland would probably comply with the EU's rules to avoid being isolated again. Depending on whether the EU countries decide on permanent summer time or normal time, political consequences seem unavoidable for Switzerland: summer time was introduced in 1981 by a decree, which is why the federal council could abolish it without a referendum.

On the other hand, winter time is well-established in Switzerland as the legal standard time and corresponds to CET. If the majority of the EU opted for summer time, this would require a change in the law, which could trigger another referendum.

Based on AvS/Sara Trailovic
Translated by Justine Hewson

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