Daylight saving ends in Spain this weekend when the clocks are turned back one hour – from 3am to 2am early Sunday morning. This could be the last time Spain, and other European countries, shift from different summer to winter times, following a recommendation by the European Commission to end the practice.
Responding to a daylight saving debate among social groups across the continent, in 2018 the Commission held a public consultation in which more than 80 per cent of the 4.6 million citizens taking part were in favour of ending the time change.
Based on this result, the Commission proposed that March 2019 would be the final hour change. However, a lack of agreement between member states and impact evaluations prompted the EU to delay any change until 2021, and give countries the option of maintaining daylight saving time or the alternative winter hour.
According to the Commission, if a decision is eventually taken to permanently adopt daylight saving time, the final hour change will take place in March 2021. Alternatively, for those countries that decide to remain on winter saving time, the clocks will be turned back for the last time in October 2021.
The Spanish government has not yet decided which option it will settle on, but its decision is likely to be influenced by surveys such as the one carried out by the Sociological Research Centre in November 2018, in which 65 per cent of those surveyed expressed a preference for daylight saving time.
The first regulations on daylight saving time were adopted in Europe in 1980. In 2000, under European Directive 2000/84/EC (which applies to all member states), rules were established setting March and October as the respective start and end dates.
Geographically, Spain is located in the local time zone UTC/GMT+1, the same as most of Europe, except for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Portugal, which remain in UTC/GMT+0. Spanish signed up its “official time” – which is 60 minutes ahead of “universal time” – to this local time zone in 1940.
The number of sunlight hours is almost consistent throughout Spain’s various latitudes: plus-minus 10 in winter and plus-minus 14 in summer. Nevertheless, sunrise and sunset don’t occur at the same time in the east and west, as there is a difference of more than one hour between the two extremes. Vigo in Galicia, for example, is the European city with the latest sunset.
So what about potential energy savings? In 2018, the European parliament’s industry, research and energy commission published a report noting that, although seasonal hour changes could lead to savings, they were not significant – or necessarily beneficial for all member states. The results were also inconclusive about energy savings for lighting (possible) and heating (could result in increased consumption). The accuracy of the results also depends on the influence of external factors such as weather conditions and user behaviour.
Whatever the official time, Murcia’s superb weather makes it the ideal holiday destination throughout the year.