Spain is considering changing its time zone to reverse a World War Two decision that put the country in sync with Nazi Germany.
Until the 1940s, Spain was in the same zone as Britain and Portugal, which are on roughly the same longitude.
But when Nazi-occupied France switched to German time, Spain’s Franco dictatorship followed suit.
Now there are calls for the decision to be reversed – on the grounds that it would help boost Spaniards’ quality of life.
Switching to British time might bring Spain some family-friendly British customs, parliament’s Equality Commission suggested.
Its study said: “The fact that for more than 71 years Spain has not been in its proper time zone means … we sleep almost an hour less than the World Health Organisation recommends.
“All this has a negative effect on productivity, absenteeism, stress, accidents and school drop-out rates.”
The time change was “a foundation stone” of a series of recommendations aimed at making work and school hours more flexible and work and family life more compatible, said commission president Carmen Quintanilla.
She said: “We drag out the morning and extend our lunchtime. We lose time and have to work more hours in the afternoon. Eating later, we have to start work later, which means we get off work later.”
Moving clocks back by one hour could have a profound effect on the eating, sleeping and working habits of Spaniards, whose culture is famed for long lunches, siestas and late shifts at work.
For example, if it gets dark earlier companies would likely readjust work schedules that see Spaniards working well into the evening, the commission said.
That might move Spain closer to the 9-to-5 working tradition more commonly seen in Britain – and hence encourage earlier meals and more family time.
Although working hours in Spain vary greatly, the typical working day is divided in two, with lunches sometimes lasting up to two hours. Many workers take this opportunity to dine at home – something health experts believe is beneficial – and this in turn allows them to enjoy the famous Spanish tradition of the siesta.
But as a result, many workers do not get off until after 7pm and shops stay open up to 10pm, when bars begin to fill for what are often lengthy nights of socialising.
“Our time schedules have serious effects on the daily life of Spaniards,” said Nuria Chinchilla, a business school executive who helped write the study.
“We live in permanent jet lag.”