The Ministry of Economics informs that by the adoption of the final decision of the European Commission (EC) all European Union (EU) Member States will switch to summer time for summer and put the clock back in autumn. This year, Latvia will a switch summer-time on March 31.
However, as you know, the matter of the need for a review of the current summer-time arrangements was raised in Europe last year. The EC therefore conducted a survey of the population of EU Member States, in which most of the population expressed the opinion that the existing arrangements should be cancelled. Accordingly, on 12 September 2018, the European Commission presented a new draft directive to the EU Member States encouraging to stop seasonal clock changes throughout the European Union from 2019. Discussions of the proposal in the European Union are still ongoing, the final decision has not been taken yet and there are currently no indications of the potential approval time. The discussions held so far have shown that the proposed deadline for stopping seasonal clock changes in 2019 is unfeasible and the most appropriate time for stopping seasonal clock changes would be 2021.
The Ministry of Economics has analysed the draft directive prepared by the EC, consulting with a number of economic operators, non-governmental organisations and other national regulatory authorities from our economic sectors, and has prepared Latvia’s national position on stopping the seasonal time changes, which was accepted at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministry on February 19.
Latvia generally supports stopping of the seasonal clock changes, and after the adoption of the new directive is prepared to switch to summer-time (GMT +3) to stay in it permanently.
It is also important for Latvia to reach an agreement on the selection of a single time zone for all the Baltic States before the entry of the directive into force, which will be defined as the basic time after the seasonal time changes stop. At the same time, we believe that it is important to ensure a harmonised approach to the setting of time zones throughout the EU, and, therefore, a hasty final decision should not be taken before the Member States have completed national discussions.
We have concluded that, in general, switching to summer-time and back does not have a significant impact on the national economy, but given the principles of the functioning of the EU internal market, it is essential to ensure that all EU Member States act in the same way as regards switching to summer-time and back. According to the information provided by professionals, the impact of switching to summertime and back in the energy and transport sector is negligible. On the other hand, in the tourism sector, switching to summer-time and back has a positive impact, as this leads to additional demand for different tourism services for both active recreation and entertainment opportunities.
When developing the national position, the Ministry of Economics has:
- identified the opinions of all ministries and the representatives of industries supervised by them, non-governmental organisations, as well as the opinions of the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The opinions indicated that ministries and industry representatives believe that stopping of seasonal clock changes can be supported and that summer time should be determined as the most appropriate time;
- taken into opinion the opinion expressed by Latvian residents in a survey organised by the European Commission. According to the survey, 85% of Latvian respondents (0.5% of the Latvian population participated in the survey) indicated that they supported stopping of the seasonal clock changes, 65% supported summer time, while 23% supported winter time;
- expressed its opinion in line with the agreement reached at the meeting of the Baltic Council of Ministers in Vilnius on 17 December 2018 on the need to coordinate their activities with a view to trying to maintain a uniform time zone in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Discussions of the proposal in the European Union are still ongoing, the final decision has not been taken yet and there are currently no indications of the potential approval time.