When the clocks go forward an hour on March 31 next year, it could be the last time that all members of the EC mark the transition of the seasons together. The European Commission says that after that, each State will have to decide for itself what it wants to do.
The problem for Spain is that the country is not sure what to do. Presently, the whole country with the exception of the Canary Islands, is one hour ahead of GMT (GMT+1) in the winter and two hours ahead (GMT+2) in the summer. The Canaries are on GMT in the winter and GMT+1 in the summer, as are the UK and Portugal.
A recent on-line consultation run by the EC attracted 4.6 million responses and suggested that 93 percent of Spain’s population want to stay on the same time all year. Meanwhile, polls in the Spanish media show that about three-quarters of the population want the country to remain on permanent summer time (GMT+2) all year round.
In Málaga, this would mean a later sunrise in winter – in January this would be about 9.30am at the latest – but an hour more daylight in the evening with the earliest sunset at about 7.00pm in mid-winter.
In the west of the peninsula, Galicia wants year-round GMT+2 while Portugal, directly to its south, wants to retain the twice-yearly clock change. But the Canary Islands government is determined, whatever happens, to stay an hour adrift from the mainland, so that it keeps its hourly mention on the radio whenever there is a time-check.
Critics of the hour change say it has multiple health implications for humans, causing stress, fatigue, sleep problems and digestive issues.
A government committee is to meet to decide what Spain will do after next March, and is required to advise the Commission of their decision.