Swiss MPs seek referendum on time change to align with EU neighbours
Following the EU's recommendation to scrap seasonal clock changes in March this year, a group of politicians in Switzerland is hoping to get the 100,000 signatures necessary to call a referendum on whether the central European state should align itself with its neighbours.
A Swiss referendum campaign has been launched with a view to adapting the nation's time zone to any future decisions its international neighbours could take.
Since 1981, Switzerland has changed its clocks twice a year, in March and October, to synchronize national time with its central European neighbours.
The EU parliament in March this year voted to allow each member state to decide whether it would like to stick to winter or summer time in the future. The EU Council will need to formalize that decision later this year.
Switzerland's main fear is that EU neighbour states could end up in a different time zone, which could disrupt transboundary ties. The referendum is calling for Switzerland to adapt its timezone to any decision taken by its central European neighbours.
France and Austria are currently looking at remaining on permanent summer time, while Germany has yet to make an official decision.
"A different official time would make Switzerland a time island, with all the consequences that this difference could have for commercial transactions, transport, tourism and communication," wrote METAS, Switzerland's Federal Institute for Meteorology, in a statement (FR) on March 26th. "Switzerland is following developments in neighboring countries," adds that statement.
The Swiss popular initiative has been put forward by MPs Yvette Estermann and Lukas Reimann of the UDC party. Supported by six other people, the initiative has until October 9th 2020 to collect the 100,000 signatures required to enforce a referendum.