The House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, chaired by Baroness Donaghy, has launched an inquiry into the European Commission’s proposal to end seasonal changes of time in the EU, and what this proposal will mean for the UK in the context of Brexit.
EU summer-time legislation requires Member States to begin their summer-time arrangements on the last Sunday of March and end them on the last Sunday of October. On 13 September 2018, the European Commission published a proposal to replace the obligation to apply seasonal changes of time with an obligation to discontinue this practice, and observe winter- or summer-time throughout the year.1 The choice of permanent winter- or summer-time will be at the discretion of each Member State.
On 22 October 2018, the Committee published a reasoned opinion concluding that the proposal does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity.2
If the Directive is adopted and it has a transposition deadline that falls within the period in which the UK is still a Member State or in a transition period, the UK will be required to end seasonal changes of time and choose between applying permanent winter- or summer-time.
If the Directive is adopted and it has a transposition deadline after exit day, and the UK has no obligation to continue applying EU law, the UK will be faced with the choice of maintaining seasonal changes of time or abolishing them in line with its EU neighbours.
The proposal has significant implications for the island of Ireland: while time is a reserved matter in respect of Scotland and Wales, there is no equivalent reservation or exception for Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland (assuming the devolved institutions have been re-established) may therefore need to choose between aligning its time arrangements with the Republic of Ireland or with the rest of the UK.
The inquiry will examine what preparations the Government should make for the possibility that the Directive is adopted, and what factors should inform its approach. The committee does not intend to evaluate the relative merits of permanent winter- or summer-time.
Diversity comes in many forms, and hearing a range of different perspectives means that Committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.