The European Commission today said it received more than 4.6 million responses to its consultation on axing the twice-yearly time change in Europe.
The Commission asked for input on whether Europe should scrap daylight savings rules, eliminating the need to change the clocks twice a year, as part of its review of the EU summertime directive.
That’s a record number of responses to an EU consultation, Commission spokesperson Christian Spahr told reporters in Brussels on Friday. The consultation ran for six weeks from July 4 to August 16.
The choices offered in the consultation include permanent summertime or permanent wintertime. If the EU decides to discontinue the current arrangements, Europe must maintain a unified time regime, the consultation said, to avoid disrupting the single market.
“We are now going to analyze the results we received and publish a report in the coming weeks,” Spahr said.
The consultation followed a February request from the European Parliament to carry out a “thorough assessment” of summertime arrangements, despite the decades-old practice of putting the clocks forward by an hour between March and October.
The main argument for scrapping the clock change would be to benefit health: The Commission’s consultation states that, while evidence of the “overall [health] effects” remain inconclusive, the impact of the time changes on the human biorhythm may be “more severe than previously thought.”
Saving energy was one of the main drivers of the current arrangements but the reduction in energy use from the clock change is “marginal” and largely dependent on member countries’ geographical location, the Commission said.
Ginger Hervey contributed reporting.