Central European Time (CET)

This is the Central European standard time, which covers numerous countries from western Spain to the eastern Poland. A total of 35 countries are located in this time zone.

During the summer, all countries except Algeria and Tunisia still change their clocks from Central European Time to summer time, known as "Central European Summertime" (CEST). The clocks are advanced by one hour. In all participating countries, this changeover always takes place on the last Sunday in March and October at 2 or 3 o'clock at night.

Current Central European Summertime:
Friday, June 02, 2023
The differences between the individual time zones are always given in relation to the "Universal Time Coordinated" (UTC), i.e., the time at the zero meridian (zero degrees of longitude in Greenwich). The time zone UTC +1 is valid for Central European Time, i.e., UTC +2 is reached in summertime.

Central European Time was set to correspond to the mean solar time at the 15th longitude (east). This crosses Germany in the extreme east near Görlitz. To have a uniform time zone in Europe, all Central European countries, as well as France and Spain, joined the time zone. All countries to the west of Germany, including the Netherlands and Belgium, would therefore have to be in a different time zone to have a time appropriate to the position of the sun. This difference is greatest in the extreme west of Spain. Here, you are about one and a half hours behind the actual solar time, which is why it gets light there 1.5 hours later and dark later than on the 15th degree longitude. Like Portugal, Spain should actually be in the Western European time zone. In 1942, the country deliberately left the Western European time zone and adopted the Central European one. For decades, there have been repeated movements to return to the actual time zone.

Countries in Central European Time

CET time applies to the following countries:

Bosnia and HerzegovinacountrywideCETCEST
Bouvet IslandcountrywideCETCEST
North MacedoniacountrywideCETCEST
Principality of MonacocountrywideCETCEST
San MarinocountrywideCETCEST
Spainwithout CanariesCETCEST
Vatican CitycountrywideCETCEST

The area of the countries participating in Central European Summer Time today is by far the largest in Europe. There is only the Western European Time Zone, which is considerably smaller in area, and the Eastern European Time Zone.

History of Daylight Saving Time in Europe

Daylight saving time was first introduced in Europe in 1916, but was abandoned after only 3 years. It was not until 1940 that it was temporarily reintroduced in many countries, mainly to save energy in the evening hours. This phase also lasted only about 10 years.

The next hard times came after the second oil crisis, so in the 1970s attempts were made again to use the energy-saving effect of the time change. Since then, Central European countries have had uniform winter and summer time. However, the simultaneous changeover between these two times did not take place until 1996.

Controversial energy savings

The fact that the time changeover saves energy was one of the main arguments at the beginning of the last century and was cited repeatedly by numerous states as a justification. In fact, the effect is rather marginal because what no longer needs to be illuminated in the evening is left in the dark longer in the morning. Instead, energy savings of 0.2 percent in France or even a one percent increase in parts of the USA have been confirmed. Today, it is assumed that many countries joined the time changeovers of their neighboring countries merely for political and economic reasons in order to create a more uniform internal market.

It is expected that the entire European Union will bid farewell to the time change to summer time in the coming years. In the course of this, some Western countries will certainly also withdraw from Central European Time.

Further Countries in the same timezone of UTC +1

Although the timezone is named "Central European Time", it is mostly for politcal reasons. It simply means that, e.g., the beginning and ending of daylight savings time always apply here uniformly. There are some other countries, in which the clock strikes the same hour. These countries have the same temporal distance to UTC (Universal Time Coordinated):


The time zones and times listed here are based on the IANA "Olsen" time zone database. Designations and their translations were adapted separately. Version used and update: Version 2022.4 on 11/27/2022.
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