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Could Spain finally go back to GMT? Ciudadanos and PSOE include the time zone in their new government deal
thinkSPAIN , Monday, February 29, 2016

ONE of the points on the socialists' and Ciudadanos' controversial deal for future policies has included putting Spain back on GMT in winter and BST in summer – spelling the end of the population's eternal 'jet lag' which it has been suffering for over 76 years.

Due to their geographical location, mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands should be in the same time zone as the Canary Islands, Portugal, the UK, Ireland and Morocco.

And returning the country to its correct hour would help improve the work-life balance, Ciudadanos argued, which the socialists, or PSOE, has agreed to.

The issue was first raised in May 2013 by the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), since they pointed out that the difference between sunrise and sunset in the far north-western mainland region and that of the Balearics was as much as an hour – it is still daylight in the Balearic Islands in the evening after it has already gone dark in Galicia, which is directly due north of Portugal.

But the Canary Islands is less keen – on the radio and television, when presenters announce the time, they always add that of the archipelago: “It's three o'clock, and two o'clock in the Canaries.”

This means the Canary Islands' presence is constantly recalled, says the independent party Coalición Canarias.

GMT was chosen as the blanket time zone for the whole of Spain by a Royal Decree, or Bill of Law passed on July 26, 1900, and remained in place until 1922.

The British Royal Navy asked Spanish authorities 94 years ago what the time was in the Canary Islands, given that, as a result of their geographic location, they should, in theory, be an hour behind.

At this point, the time zone was altered for the islands – mainland Spain and the Balearics continued on GMT, but the Canaries were set at an hour earlier.

This all changed in 1940, however – a year after the Civil War and one year into the Second World War, Spanish dictator General Franco wanted the country to synchronise its time zones with Berlin and Rome, since he was a close ally of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

If the socialists and Ciudadanos do in fact end up in government together, the switch to GMT may meet with resistance in the tourism industry – on summer nights, it does not get dark until between 21.30hrs and 22.00hrs, which means longer on the beach than if it did so at 20.30hrs.

And the midday sun would move back an hour, too – whilst British holidaymakers rush to ensure they are out of the rays by noon, it is in fact the two o'clock sun they should beware.

With the Greenwich Meridian Line running through Aragón and the Comunidad Valenciana but the country being on Central European Time (CET), the noon sun is actually at 13.00hrs in the winter.

And once British Summer Time (BST) and Central European Summer Time (CEST) come into play after the clocks are put forward, the 'noon' sun is in fact at 14.00hrs in Spain and at 13.00hrs in the UK.

Another curious fact about the hour in Spain – aside from its being one of only two countries in Europe, along with Portugal, with more than one time zone – is that the Spanish-owned city-provinces of Ceuta, directly due south of Gibraltar, and Melilla, south as the crow flies from Almería and near the Algerian border, are both, territorially-speaking, on the coast of Morocco.

But although Morocco is on GMT, Ceuta and Melilla are on CET, meaning anyone who steps out of the city gates of either into African territory goes back in time by one hour.



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