Estonia Must Remain in the Same Time Zone as Finland and Latvia
The European Union is discussing an idea to end the turning of clocks from April of next year. In the Chamber’s opinion, if this idea goes through a situation must be prevented where the Estonian time zone differs from that of Latvia and Finland.
Today, all Member States are obliged, based on the European Union directive, to change to summer time on the last Sunday of March and back to winter time on the last Sunday of October. The European Union is planning to end the season-based turning of clocks and according to the proposal under discussion, the last turning of clocks will take place on 31 March 2019.
Thereafter each Member State will be free to decide which time zone they choose and if the prefer permanent summer time or permanent winter time. If a Member State prefers winter time, they much change for the last time on 27 October 2019. Additionally, Member States will have the right to make changes in their time zone that do not depend on seasons.
Upon entry into force of the Directive there may theoretically be a situation where Finland, Estonia and Latvia are all in different time zones. Such solution would probably not have a positive impact on tourism, transport, travelling or other areas.
We see two solutions to prevent such situations. The first is to establish clearly in the directive that all Member States remain in winter time or summer time after the turning of the clocks is ended. This would mean that each Member State cannot decide if they prefer winter time or summer time, this decision would be made jointly on the European Union level.
If the wording of the directive cannot be changed and each Member State will have the right to decide if they prefer winter or summer time, Estonia should cooperate with Finland, Latvia and Lithuania and maybe other Member States so that the said countries would remain in one time zone in the future. The feedback from the members of the Chamber revealed that the majority of the respondents would prefer staying in summer time.
According to the Directive, the last seasonal turning of the clocks will take place on 31 March 2019. At the moment, the Chamber has not received feedback from the members that this deadline would bring along any negative impacts, as a result of which the ending of the turning of clocks should be postponed.
According to the Directive, the Member States will have the right to make changes in their time zone, which would not be dependent on the seasons. The European Commission must be notified of that at least six months before the entry into force of the amendment. The initial feedback from the members shows that six months is sufficiently long time for advance notice.