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Czech Republic switching to summer time on Sunday…maybe for last time

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The Czech Republic, together with most of the other European countries, will switch to summer time (CEST) on Sunday, March 29, when the clocks go forward by one hour at 2:00 CET (Central European Time), but this year may be the last one when the time switching takes place.

Last spring, the European Parliament approved that the time switching would end in the European Union and individual countries are to choose either summer or winter time as their standard one. By April, EU member states are to tell the European Commission whether they decided for the former or the latter.

An EU directive, approved in 1997 and extended indefinitely four years later, introduced the beginning and end of summer time on last Sunday in March and in October, respectively, always in the night.

The regular changing of time has provoked debates on whether it is effective and safe from the medical point of view.

Opponents of the time switch claim that it is harmful for human health as it disturbs people’s natural biorhythm.

Summer time, originally meant to contribute to energy saving, was first introduced in the Czech Lands during World War One in 1915, and repeated in the following year, but then scrapped.

The Nazis reintroduced summer time in the occupied Czech Lands in 1940, and it was kept after the end of the war until 1949 when the Communists abolished it.

CEST (Central European Summer Time) was reintroduced in then Czechoslovakia in November 1979 and it has been annually observed since then. In 1996 it was extended from six to seven months in harmony with an EU directive.

The campaign, which aimed to end the switching of time, was started in 1997 by a group of European Parliament members headed by Czech MEP Pavel Svoboda (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).

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