[LEAPSECS] ITU-R SG7 to consider UTC on October 4

Clive D.W. Feather clive at davros.org
Fri Aug 6 03:40:45 EDT 2010

Poul-Henning Kamp said:

>>>> What countries do you think are using UT1 (or another time scale with an

>>>> astronomical basis) for their legal time, and which would therefore

>>>> drift away from those using UTC?

>>> Notably, Denmark.


> Actually, that is certainly not the case, no matter how you look

> at it.


> Although the "law of recogning time" from late 18xx does that, the

> current view is that the law was probably formulated that way in

> order to make the result of the longitude conference understandable

> by the relevant lay people (navigators), rather than as an actual

> scientific definition.


> That is somewhat creative reading, in order to make the legal

> argument fall in place:

I am not a Danish lawyer, but such a "current view" would be unlikely to
sway the UK courts in the presence of clear legislative wording to the

> The EU directive on summertime superseedes the old law, thereby

> defining legal time in Denmark as based on (wait for it...) GMT!

The EU directive does no such thing.

The EU directive sets the time of transition between winter and summer
time. It is an instruction to the Member States to change their legislation
with a certain effect - you can see the effect in the UK in my previous
email, where the Summer Time Act s.1(2) was amended to make UK law conform
to the Directive.

The Directive does *NOT* specify the legal time base in any EU country,
merely the offset. It doesn't even specify the offsets from GMT (or UTC) to
be used in each country. Read it:

Article 1

For the purposes of this Directive 'summer-time period' shall mean the
period of the year during which clocks are put forward by 60 minutes
compared with the rest of the year.

Article 2

From 2002 onwards, the summer-time period shall begin, in every Member
State, at 1.00 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time, on the last Sunday in March.

Article 3

From 2002 onwards, the summer-time period shall end, in every Member
State, at 1.00 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time, on the last Sunday in October.

[4 and 5 are bumf]

Article 6

This Directive shall not apply to the overseas territories of the
Member States.

Article 7

Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and
administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by
31 December 2001 at the latest. They shall forthwith inform the
Commission thereof.

When Member States adopt those measures, they shall contain a reference
to this Directive or be accompanied by such a reference on the occasion
of their official publication. Member States shall determine how such
reference is to be made.

Article 8

This Directive shall enter into force on the day of its publication
in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Article 9

This Directive is addressed to the Member States.

Forcing all Member States to use GMT+N or UTC+N or TAI+N is clearly within
the powers of the European Commission, but they've made no attempt to do so
up to now.

> The GMT is clearly an interpreter thing, trying to be helpful,

> rather than distiction of definition, as other translations use

> UTC, "Weltzeit" and similar terms of art.

Indeed, they do.

A strict reading of this wording would mean that, even if the UK moved to
UTC as its basis for timekeeping, the transition would *still* be defined
by GMT, not UTC.

But the variation in wording indicates that the Commission did not intend
to alter the basis of timekeeping in any Member State and, indeed, viewed
the difference as irrelevant to the purpose of this Directive.

> So no, clocks in Denmark would be firmly in lockstep with clocks

> in the rest of the EU.

Except for the difference between those clocks in states following GMT and
those in states following UTC.

Clive D.W. Feather | If you lie to the compiler,
Email: clive at davros.org | it will get its revenge.
Web: http://www.davros.org | - Henry Spencer
Mobile: +44 7973 377646

More information about the LEAPSECS mailing list