The Brief, powered by ECPC – A huge waste of time

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter [Photo: EPA-EFE]

Daylight savings time finishes on Sunday, reminding us that not so long ago the EU planned to do away with the biannual clock change. But if the management of the pandemic is anything to go by, you can forget about that happening anytime soon.

In 2018, it was hailed as a real policy for real people when the Commission proposed scrapping daylight savings. It was even touted to join the likes of free mobile roaming and Erasmus in the pantheon of EU schemes the general public actually knows about.

When MEPs supported the idea in March 2019, it looked not unlikely that the system would be phased out after March 2021. No more leaving the office when it is dark, fewer traffic accidents and better health were cited as the main advantages.

Any good bit of EU policy-making inevitably comes with hassle attached. The Commission left the final decision on whether to nix DST up to governments, which threatened to create a patchwork of timezones and misleading travel timetables if handled poorly.

After more than six months of pandemic-related transport chaos, supply chain disruption and badly coordinated management, The Brief today advises the EU to consign this bright idea to the top shelf and let it gather dust.

Since March, when the virus first hit Europe hard, we have seen huge traffic jams at borders, coronavirus-tracking apps fail to work between countries and a hodge-podge of quarantine and testing regimes that have wrought havoc on numerous sectors.

It is not unreasonable to suggest – with hindsight admittedly – that an EU-wide corona-app, quicker cooperation between member states on border closures and restrictions, and a top-down approach would have controlled the spread of the virus more effectively.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the current architecture of the EU is poorly designed to handle crises of this nature. Consensus can be achieved but when everyone needs to agree, fast, there are serious shortcomings.

It is a pity, because we could do with extra sunlight at the end of the day to help get us through what is going to be a bleak autumn and winter period. Seasonal Affective Disorder is tough to manage at the best of times; in 2020, it should be taken more seriously than ever.

Learn from your mistakes, the old mantra goes. With that in mind, the clock change idea – although great on paper – has disaster, waste of money and pointless headache written all over it. Better to spend precious time elsewhere.

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The Roundup

Belgium is feeling the impact of a second wave of the pandemic and might be forced to go into a full second lockdown. Former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, 45, is in intensive care after contracting the virus.

The Czech Republic is dealing with the worst per-capita spread in Europe. Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Czech PM Andrej Babis met virtually; the EU will provide 30 ventilators. EU leaders will meet for an e-summit next week to take stock.

Belarus’ opposition movement won the EU Sakharov Prize, Parliament President David Sassoli announced. Check out this analysis of Berlin-Moscow relations, which are currently undergoing a period of change.

The EIB has been urged to cancel a €264m loan for a new stretch of autobahn in central Germany. Here’s where Berlin and Paris stand on the Common Agricultural Policy, which has been the focus of diplomats and lawmakers this week.

Portugal’s incoming EU Council presidency wants to boost investment in e-government, while activists are insisting that it is not too late to make the EU-Africa agenda a more balanced affair.

MEPs voted to boost nuclear non-proliferation efforts, urging the EU’s top diplomat to double down on supporting a global treaty that is up for review. Airbus and two Israeli arms firms have landed a deal to provide drones to the EU’s external border guards.

Look out for…

EU environment ministers meet to delve into the detail of new climate rules for 2030.

MEPs wrap up their e-plenary. The now infamous vote on ‘veggie-discs’ is scheduled for the morning. Catch up and keep up with all the CAP news with our ongoing coverage here.

Von der Leyen heads to The Hague to meet with Dutch PM Mark Rutte. Brexit is likely to be the main talking point.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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