Lithuania calls for daylight saving axe

Lithuania calls for daylight saving axe

Lithuania says it will push the European Union to abolish its daylight-saving laws, despite claims that it improves productivity and energy efficiency. 

The Baltic state claims that most of its citizens find it annoying to have to change their clocks twice a year and its parliamentarians voted 76 to seven, with seven abstentions, in favour of the executive’s proposal to open talks with the European Commission.

Deividas Matulionis, spokesman for Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, said: “The government decided to initiate discussions within the EU about whether the directive is still relevant.”

Matulionis said some citizens struggled to adapt to the change and felt it had a short-term negative effect on their health, adding that there was no firm evidence on the energy benefits.

Lithuania’s foreign and communication ministers will start talks with the commission, the EU’s executive branch, and member states.

Polling in 2017 had reportedly suggested that 79 per cent of 2.8 million Lithuanians opposed the biannual hour change.

The European Commission said it was “currently examining the summertime question based on all available evidence”.

Advocates of daylight saving time, adopted in the early 20th century, say longer evening daylight hours in the summer help save energy and increase productivity.

An EU spokesman said daylight saving rules across the bloc helped avoid problems in the energy, transport and logistics sectors, and added that studies showed they had “led to some energy savings”.

Leading figures in Finland, Poland and Sweden have also criticised daylight saving, which is enforced across most of North America and Europe.

The three Baltic states, meanwhile, aimed to link their power Soviet-era network to the rest of the EU by 2020 rather than in 2025 to end reliance on Russia, Lithuania’s energy minister said earlier this month.

The power grids of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which joined the EU in 2004, are still linked with a network linking Russia and Belarus because of their Soviet past.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas said the three nations would apply to the EU in the third quarter of next year to synchronise the grid with a single link through Poland from 2020 to 2025, through the vulnerable gap between Kaliningrad and Belarus.

“The countries are on track to sign a formal agreement on grid synchronisation by June, that is the plan” Vaiciunas added. “Latest research says only the single existing link to Poland is necessary. So we can move the target to an earlier date.”

Work on building Baltic links to the rest of the EU has been slowed by a debate about whether to connect to Finland or continental Europe.

 

The parliament in Vilnius. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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