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Spain is on the wrong time zone

Spain is on the wrong time zone

This Sunday, Europe switches to summer time. Did you know that Spain is aligned with the GMT + 1 time zone while geographically, the longitude of the Iberian Peninsula places it on the GMT of London? Equinox tells you the origin of this discrepancy.

Every year, the change to summer time marks the return of longer days, late aperitifs and above all the approaching summer holidays. However, Spain, due to its geographical location, is located in the London time zone. However, the Iberian Peninsula shares the same time zone as France, ie GMT + 1. Why did Spain make this choice? This decision dates back to 1940, when Franco was in power.

German time?

The most commonly told story has its roots in the days of General Franco. The latter would have decided to take Spain out of the London time zone (GMT) to align with that of Germany (GMT+1), a Nazi ally. However, some specialists dispute this version. To understand the origin of time zones, you have to go back to 1884, when the Meridian Conference was held in Washington. This year, the Greenwich meridian was established as the reference for geographic coordinates. It was conceptualized by Canadian engineer Sandford Fleming, determining a continuous 24-hour schedule and time zones around the world. Spain was one of the 26 countries that took part in the meeting in Washington. However, it was not until January 1, 1901 that the Iberian Peninsula “adopted the Greenwich time zone as legal time for the whole country, except for the Canary Islands”, explains the astrophysicist and professor of the University of Barcelona, Father Planesas.

According to the Catalan, Spain decided to advance its time by one hour in 1940, and found itself on the same time zone as the United Kingdom. It was only two years later that occupied France and Nazi Germany adopted the time of Spain and the United Kingdom. “What Spain did in 1942 was once again bring daylight saving time forward one hour longer, and the UK did the same. This is how it appears in the Official Gazette of the Spanish State (BOE) of May 2, 1942 », says Planesas. The astrophysicist insists: “I don’t think we can say that during the war Spain adopted German time by influence or sympathy. I haven’t found any public documentation that supports either. »

What consequences?

Physicist Martín Olalla explains that “during periods of crisis in the 20th century”, such as the two world wars and the oil crisis of the 1970s, “Governments saw in the advancement of legal time a means of countering the harmful economic effects of these crises”and in this way a special schedule has been adopted for the summer.

At the time, faced with this time change, the Spaniards accepted it without changing their habits. Indeed, the inhabitants of the peninsula eat, work and sleep later than the others European countries. Which is not to the taste of some doctors. “Changing our schedules is as important as fighting obesity, tobacco or pollution. All over the world, people live with hours that go with the sun, except in Spain; we are the only country in the world where dinner is served at 10pm” lamented Dr David Arribas, representative of Doctors of Catalonia during a forum devoted to this theme.

To seal the new Spanish rhythm, the doctors therefore want to take advantage of the possible cancellation of the time change, which is dragging on, in particular due to the health crisis. In 2018, the European Commission organized a consultation with all European citizens with an overwhelming result of 80% in favor of ending time changes. Europe proposes that in 2021 each State decides to stay on winter time or summer time. Doctors specializing in the subject are pleading to keep winter time in Spain. “It would come down to the most natural schedule, which our body asks of us, because right now our cells are following the rhythm of the sun, but not our schedules, and that makes us live in a permanent jet lag” concludes Dr Arribas.

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