It's about time

Time – we’re all running out of it. Most of Europe’s time zones are still tuned to Hitler’s clock and it stumbles circadian rythyms. Time is a very judgmental area already, even before throwing policies into the mix.

Most European clocks are out of tune with natural time since the Second World War, when countries like Spain chose Central European Time (CET) to align with their ally, Nazi Germany. It makes little sense for the West for the Mediterranean to adopt a time that is better suited to Poland. Many advocate splitting Europe into four time zones based on natural time; ensuring the sun is at its highest at noon, but the status quo seems very hard to move.

It makes little sense for Poland and Spain to share the same time zone. A map of European times from Wikimedia Commons.

Another great point of contention are Daylight Saving policies. They were first introduced to save on coal during WWI, but don’t serve the intended purpose anymore. Today, they are very unpopular: in a 2018 survey, 84% of participants wanted to abolish the switch between DST and Standard Time. But most of us are still stuck with it, as the EU has left it up to individual countries to decide whether to stick with winter time or summer time.

Time zones and daylight saving time aren’t just about what time we set our clocks to, but about our health as well. Humans are mostly tuned to a circadian rhythm, an internal clock that is more or less aligned with sunlight and dark periods. When this chronological mechanism is rearranged, our biological tune falls out of sync with our social clocks – that is, the schedule under which our societies operate.

It is a continent-wide, history-laden, politically charged, chronobiological puzzle. Today’s guests try to sort the pieces:

Prof. Dietrich Henckel is a board member of the German Society for Time Policy (DGfZP), and specializes in urban and regional economics. His research covers urban time structures, time policies and the impact of light pollution on cities. Prof. Henckel is recognized for his contributions to understanding how time and temporal dynamics affect urban environments and policy-making.

Dr. Imre Márton Reményi is a Budapest-born and Vienna-raised expert, with a diverse background ranging from mechanical engineering to opera singing. He currently works as a coach, psychotherapist, and organizational consultant, and is the president of the Austrian Burn-Out Society. He is also the CEO of Systemisches Institut Wien.

James Irons is a UK and Vienna-based comedian and professional actor who has played and appeared in multiple roles, including at the Open House Theatre in Vienna. He began his career with the podcast theatre group in the United Kingdom, and moved to Austria two years later. He was an assistant director for the play The Invisible Hand of the Vienna Theatre Project.

We meet with them at the Alte Schmiede Kunstverein, Vienna

Creative team

Réka Kinga Papp, editor-in-chief
Merve Akyel, art director
Szilvia Pintér, producer
Zsófia Gabriella Papp, executive producer
Margarita Lechner, writer-editor
Salma Shaka, writer-editor
Priyanka Hutschenreiter, project assistant


Hermann Riessner managing director
Judit Csikós project manager
Csilla Nagyné Kardos, office administration


Senad Hergić producer
Leah Hochedlinger video recording
Marlena Stolze video recording
Clemens Schmiedbauer video recording
Richard Brusek sound recording


Nóra Ruszkai, lead video editor
Kateryna Kuzmenko dialogue editor


Victor Maria Lima, animation
Cornelia Frischauf, theme music

Captions and subtitles

Julia Sobota, Daniela Univazo, Mars Zaslavsky, Marta Ferdebar, Olena Yermakova, Farah Ayyash

Hosted by The Alte Schmiede Kunstverein, Vienna


Daylight Saving Time and Artificial Time Zones – A Battle Between Biological and Social Times by Till Roenneberg, Eva C. Winnebeck, and Eva C. Winnebeck, Frontiers in Physiology.

When will the EU end seasonal clock changes? Only time will tell. by Alice Tidey, Euronews.

Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson , TED

Related Reads

Midnight dispatch: Night workers’ voices from the UK and Romania by Julius-Cezar MacQuarie


This talk show is a Display Europe production: a ground-breaking media platform anchored in public values.
This programme is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and the European Cultural Foundation.
Importantly, the views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and speakers only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor the EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Published 18 January 2024
Original in English
First published by Eurozine

© Standard Time / Eurozine / Display Europe



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