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Why Transport Ministers Get to Decide the Fate of Europe’s Clocks

The European Union is set to abandon daylight saving time in 2021. Here’s why transportation officials have a final say on making it happen.
In a largely borderless union with many international transportation networks, the potential for transit chaos from mismatching clocks is substantial.
In a largely borderless union with many international transportation networks, the potential for transit chaos from mismatching clocks is substantial.Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

Starting in 2021, the European Union will say goodbye to daylight saving time. After years of discussion, members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to abolish the practice of turning the clocks forward and back by one hour each spring and autumn.

While this is a significant pronouncement for a parliament that doesn’t get much coverage, the real force behind the decision lies elsewhere—not just in Europe’s national governments, but specifically in their transportation ministers. Those ministers already thrashed out a loose agreement in October; to make it final, they need to ratify parliament’s decision at a meeting later this year.