Blog AnalysisEU Institutions

The end of the time change. A small blow worthy of Machiavelli

(B2) The surprise change in position of the European Commission on summer time actually comes from a little calculation... worthy of Machiavelli, as we have been able to reconstruct it 

The question of changing the time is very cynically linked to a German request: CDU, CSU believe that it is necessary to show the population that not everything has been decided in Brussels. What we call in techno terms 'subsidiarity'. To put into music this 180° change in the position of the European Commission, which until now had never wanted to modify the timetable, the Vice-President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, is asked to work on the subject .

An order from the 13th to Timmermans

« A command from the thirteenth floor » explains a European source. In short, where Juncker's team sits. “ This is not a report that the commissioner wanted. » And he didn't really have complete freedom to write it. The draft report is written, in fact, by the team of the Secretary General (Martin Selmayr). Timmermans sees certain chapters coming, with which he does not really agree (1). The commissioner asks that they be removed, particularly the one on summer time. THE investigation report which comes out in July is, in fact, sanitized and will not have a great impact.

Consult the population

However, the idea of ​​eliminating the time change has not been abandoned. She will come back through the gang. A public consultation is organized during the summer. It lasts from July 4 to August 16 and collects 4,6 million responses (including more than 3 million from Germany). Unsurprisingly, a large majority of responses (84%) are in favor of abolishing the system.

Result, country by country (source: European Commission)

Immediately, the Commission, or rather Jean-Claude Juncker alone, approves the position. He made his decision public at the end of August on German television, ZDF. " When you consult citizens on something, you should also do what they want. », justifies the Luxembourger. But under the guise of respecting a certain democratic will, there are slightly less acceptable objectives, as an internal source, generally well informed, admitted to us. The objective is not really to eliminate the switch to summer time, but to let each Member State decide on the switch. A map " very machiavellian in fact ».

A Machiavellian Plan

It is not really a question of granting competence, but of showing that (without the Commission), the Member States are incapable of deciding and reaching agreement. Several commissioners also spoke out against this 'brilliant' idea during the last seminar held in Genval. Without success. The idea comes from Martin Selmayr, the president's former chief of staff, who even became secretary general of the Commission, continues, more than ever, to have an eye and a hand on all decisions. He does not intend to deviate from an idea intended to bring the Commission closer to the people.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) Between the two men, it is not crazy love. As a good connoisseur of the two men recounts, between Timmermans and Selmayr, “ there is always an antagonism ". And it does not seem ready to decrease. " There is actually only one first vice-president. And it's not the one... who has the title. » Implied it is Selmayr.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

Privacy Preferences Center

Necessary

advertising

Analytics

Other