Baltic, neighbouring ministers undecided on summer, winter time choice

The EU will continue switching between summer and winter time through spring 2021.
The EU will continue switching between summer and winter time through spring 2021. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Representatives of the transport ministries of the Baltic states, Finland and Poland who met in Tallinn on Monday were of differing opinions regarding whether to remain in summer or winter time once the practice of changing the clocks twice per year comes to an end. A recent survey indicates that more than half of Estonians would prefer permanent summer time.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland jointly acknowledged that the agreement to end the practice of changing the clocks in the EU requires much more cooperation, noting that there currently isn't a sufficient majority among member states to quickly  abandon the practice, spokespeople for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said following Monday's meeting.

According to the ministry, however, Monday's meeting was not aimed at agreeing on what time should be in effect from Helsinki to Warsaw.

The EU has decided to end the practice of adjusting the clocks every spring and autumn, but has currently left it up to member states themselves to decide respectively whether they would prefer to remain on summer time or winter tie. Estonia's decision has been made difficult by the fact that, despite all being located geographically in the same time zone, Finland, the country's northern neighbour, favours winter time, while the remaining Baltics would prefer to remain on summer time.

The practice of changing the clocks twice per year is to continue through spring 2021, as EU states will not be able to reach an agreement on the details of the change before then, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) has previously explained.

The transport ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania traditionally meet on an annual basis. This time, however, Finland and Poland were involved in the meeting as well.

The Estonian delegation was led by Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Kadri Simson (Centre), the Latvian delegation by State Secretary of the Ministry of Transport Kaspars Ozoliņš, and Finnish delegation by Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport and Communications Sabina Lindström. Lithuania was represented by Minister of Transport and Communications Rokas Masiulis, and Poland by Minister of Infrastructure and Construction Andrzej Adamczyk.

In addition to the changing of the clocks, the five representatives also discussed the European Commission initiative for the establishment of a military mobility facility, the road package, Brexit as well as the electrification of railroads.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also issued Finland an official invitation to join the joint venture established for the construction of the Rail Baltica railway project.

Survey: Estonians prefer permanent summer time

According to the results of a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, given the choice between permanent summer or winter time, more than half of Estonian residents surveyed prefer the former.

Altogether 55% of respondents were in favour of remaining on permanent summer time, while 28% supported permanent winter time. 2% would prefer the practice of changing the clocks twice per year to continue, while the rest did not have a definite opinion on the matter, it appears from a survey conducted by Turu-uuringute AS.

Asked for a reason for the preference, most who preferred summer time indicated that permanent summer time would mean that it would be light out for longer in the evening, which would promote various leisure activities. Those who preferred permanent winter time, meanwhile, indicated that belonging to the "correct" time zone and lighter mornings were the most popular reasons for supporting the latter.

According to the survey, the factor deemed most important was belonging to the same time zone as the other two Baltic countries as well as other countries with the same standard time, including Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus, as indicated by 63% of respondents. The next most important criterion, noted by 45% of respondents, was remaining in the same time zone as Finland.

A total of 56% of survey participants considered the issue of changing the clocks very important or rather important; this topic was rather unimportant, meanwhile, for 40% of the population.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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