The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, has today confirmed that the Government will oppose the EU’s proposed change to daylight saving time.
They said their decision follows the recommendation of an Interdepartmental Steering Group which highlighted that it could result in different time zones on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
The European Commission set out proposals last year for an end to the annual ritual of changing the clocks in the spring and autumn.
Member states have to decide this year whether they want to choose permanent summer or winter time and end the twice-yearly clock changes.
The Government noted that Member States of similar latitudes could choose different times and negatively impact the functioning of the Single Market.
Minister Flanagan said: “While I acknowledge that many favour ending the practice of seasonal clock changes, the proposal is not a straightforward one.
“It would be profoundly serious if two different time zones were to exist on the island of Ireland, creating significant unnecessary problems for people living on the border and for the all-island economy.
“I am heartened to note that the Government’s decision today is in agreement with 82% of the public in a representative opinion poll held as part of the consultative process.”
Negotiation with the Council of Ministers is still necessary and final approval will be a co-decision of the EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
The proposal still needs to be agreed in the EU Council by a Qualified Majority Vote and in the European Parliament by a further Plenary vote.
Qualified Majority Vote means that the Council requires the approval of 55% of Member States (16), which must represent at least 65% of the EU's population.
Under the proposals, member states would keep their right to decide on their timezone.
EU countries that decide to keep their summer time would make their final clock change on the last Sunday in March 2021.
Those that prefer to keep their standard winter time would adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in October 2021.
A Europe-wide public consultation found that 84% were in favour of discontinuing the bi-annual clock changes while 16% wanted to keep them.
The Commission itself has pointed to evidence indicating the "importance of having harmonised rules in this area to ensure a proper functioning of the internal market".