The Parliament of Europe has taken the final-but-one step in ending the twice-a-year switching of clocks between daylight and standard time, but the confusion and recriminations are far from over.
Under the new rules, Europe's governments will each need to choose whether to stay permanently on daylight time from March 2021 on, or to never go on daylight time again after it ends for them in October 2021. But at least two countries are raising other issues.
At present, all but three EU countries—the UK, Ireland and Portugal—share the same time zone and the same semi-annual switch-over. While there have been broad majorities across Europe for ending the switches, differences between countries may result in a checkerboard of time differences once they divide into the two camps—exactly the situation the 1981 common time rule was meant to avoid.
In the UK, which is is on the way out of the EU, some are upset by the vote, claiming that the European Commission, the EU's executive, is acting like "time lords" and trying to force an unwanted change on Britain—even though polls indicate a majority of Brits would prefer to end the switch. If Britain actually succeeds in leaving, that protest will have little meaning.
In Spain, a movement to switch Spain one zone west, joining not only the British but also Portugal and Ireland, has gained new attention as the daylight move approaches. Spain, most of which is actually west of London, moved to Central European Time in 1942; it's widely believed that the Spanish dictator Franco did that in solidarity with his ally, Hitler. In any case, proponents of returning to Greenwich time believe it will allow Spaniards to live their lives in better coordination with their natural rhythms and daylight hours.