Variation in ear emergence time is critical for the adaptation of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to specific environments. The aim of this study was to identify genes controlling ear emergence time in elite European winter wheat germplasm. Four doubled haploid populations derived from the crosses: Avalon x Cadenza, Savannah x Rialto, Spark x Rialto, and Charger x Badger were selected which represent diversity in European winter wheat breeding programmes. Ear emergence time was recorded as the time from 1st May to heading in replicated field trials in the UK, France and Germany. Genetic maps based on simple sequence repeat (SSR) and Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) markers were constructed for each population. One hundred and twenty-seven significant QTL were identified in the four populations. These effects were condensed into 19 meta-QTL projected onto a consensus SSR map of wheat. These effects are located on chromosomes 1B (2 meta-QTL), 1D, 2A (2 meta-QTL), 3A, 3B (2 meta-QTL), 4B, 4D, 5A (2 meta-QTL), 5B, 6A, 6B 7A (2 meta-QTL), 7B and 7D. The identification of environmentally robust earliness per se effects will facilitate the fine tuning of ear emergence in predictive wheat breeding programmes.