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Brussels, 21 April 2005

Final countdown to .eu has begun

The final countdown to the advent of Europe’s own “.eu” internet identity, by the end of 2005, has begun. In the coming days, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) will put the .eu top level domain in the Internet root, further to a 21 March agreement between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the .eu Registry. As from the beginning of 2006, businesses and citizens who register “.eu” internet addresses will be able to benefit from higher visibility within the EU single market and a level playing field for electronic commerce.

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "The agreement reached between ICANN and EURid constitutes a landmark in the history of the .eu project. It gives the green light for the final technical preparations to permit .eu to become a reality before the end of the year”.

A domain name is a simple way for a computer or network to be identified on the Internet. Rather than having numerical addresses that are difficult to remember, Internet users prefer domain names. The “.eu” TLD will be a new Top Level Domain that will not replace the existing national TLDs in the EU (e.g. “.fr” for France, “.be” for Belgium, “.pl” for Poland...) but will complement them and give users the option of having a pan-European Internet identity for their ‘internet presence’ – generally web sites and e-mail addresses. The Commission has made a number of preparations for the launch of this TLD during the last few years.

Following the signature of the contract between the European Commission and EURid[1], the organization selected by the European Commission to operate the .eu Registry, in 12 October 2004, the Commission authorized EURid to negotiate with ICANN an agreement for the delegation of the .eu TLD. This agreement, now approved by the Commission, enshrines ICANN’s official recognition that EURid will be the body appointed by the European Union to run the .eu TLD for the next five years.

This agreement makes also possible to include the .eu TLD in the internet root file address. IANA will do this, at the ICANN’s request, as soon as EURid has completed the necessary technical preparations.

Before the .eu Registry can accept the first applications to register .eu names, EURid must accredit Registrars – companies which can register domains on behalf of end users – and agree the details of registration policy with the Commission and other interested parties.

EURid, with the cooperation of the Commission, is working on these final preparations with the aim of launching the first phase of registration later this year.

Further information available on:
The Commission is aware that some companies are already offering to “pre-register” or “reserve” domain names, essentially by offering to make an application for the registration of a domain name to registrars as soon as the registration process is formally initiated.

Given a risk of confusion and even fraud, use of “pre-registration” services is not recommended by the Commission. In any case consumers and companies are encouraged to check exactly what is and what is not being offered.

[1] EURid is the working title for the non-profit consortium of 3 registries: DNS-BE (Belgium), IIT CNR (Italy) and NIC SE (Sweden).

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