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MEMO/06/159

Brussels, 7 April 2006

.eu, Europe’s Own Internet Domain:
Frequently Asked Questions

What is .eu?

“.eu” is simply a new Top Level Domain (TLD). It will not replace the existing national country code TLDs in the EU, 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.

Any individual resident in the EU or any organization or company established in the EU will be able to register a name under the .eu TLD. European law and the jurisdiction of European courts will apply.

The creation of .eu was decided at the Lisbon Council in 2000 to stress the importance that Europe gives to the Information Society and to electronic commerce to enhance Europe’s competitiveness.

What is a Top Level Domain anyway?

A domain name is used in the Internet to identify particular web pages and e-mail addresses. Every domain name has a suffix that indicates the Top Level Domain (TLD) to which it belongs. The TLD is the part of an internet domain name which can be found to the right of the last point or the “@” symbol.

For example, ".int" is currently the TLD in:
http://europa.eu.
TLDs are also obviously an important part of e-mail addresses. For example:

some.body@ec.europa.eu

".int," is one of the so-called “generic” TLDs and is reserved for use by international organisations. The other generic TLDs include .com, .net, .info, .org, etc.

There are also many country code top level domains (ccTLDs) such as .uk, .de, and .fr. Each TLD is associated with a particular registry which registers the names associated with the TLD.

Why create .eu?

The purpose of this Top Level Domain is to give European citizens and industry a safer place in cyberspace.

For citizens, it will provide a place in cyberspace, in which their rights as consumers and individuals are protected by European rules, standards, and courts.

For companies, it will enhance their internet visibility within and beyond the EU single market, advertise their pan-European outlook and provide greater certainty as to the law. Firms wishing to take advantage of the single market have until now been obliged to either to base their internet presence in one country or to create web sites in each of the EU countries in which they operate. This should foster electronic commerce and boost economic competitiveness and growth.

What exactly has the EU done to create the .eu TLD?

The milestones of the .eu project were:

  • a public consultation by the Commission and two communications to the Council and the European Parliament in 2000,
  • a European Parliament and Council Regulation in 2002,
  • a call for expressions of interest and the official selection of the Registry (2002 & 2003),
  • a Commission Regulation on the Public Policy Rules and the signature of the agreement between the Commission and the selected Registry in 2004, and
  • the delegation of the .eu TLD from ICANN to EURid, the adoption of the registration policy in consultation with stakeholders (including rules for the sunrise and the alternative dispute resolution) and the launch of the Sunrise period in 2005.

What’s the legal basis for the .eu TLD?

  • EC Regulation 733/2002 (22 April 2002), established that the new TLD should be managed and operated by a private, non-profit organization known as the .eu Registry. EURid, a consortium of Belgian, Italian and Swedish organizations, was chosen to be the .eu Registry in May 2003, following a call for expressions of interest (http://www.eurid.org)
  • EC Regulation 874/2004 (28 April 2004), lays down public policy rules on issues like speculative and abusive registrations of domain names, intellectual property and other rights, issues of language and geographical concepts, and the extra-judicial settlement of conflicts.
  • On 21 March 2005 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the worldwide domain name system, formally recognized EURid as the body appointed by the European Union the European Union to run the .eu TLD for the next five years. The .eu TLD was put in the internet root on 2 May 2005.

How can I register a .eu domain name?

All applications to register a Domain name must be made through one of the appointed registrars. These are commercial companies accredited by the Registry that compete with each other. There are more than 1000 registrars all over the world.

A list of registrars may be found on the website of EURid:
http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/ListRegistrars.htm?lang=en.

From when can I register a .eu name, and how long will this take?

The period reserved for registrations based of prior rights such as trade marks or company names will conclude at 11h00 (Belgian time) on Friday 7 April 2006. From that moment, the Registry will accept applications from anyone resident in the EU without any further conditions.

Such registration requests will be processed very quickly, since there is no longer a need to check claims to “prior rights”. Instead, domain names are allocated on a first come first served basis.

We anticipate an enormous “rush” for registrations names to take place, during the first few hours on 7 April, but the provision of facilities to deal with this have been carefully planned by EURid since the outset.

How does the Registry decide whether or not a domain name is available?

The “first come first served” principle is being applied to all applications for .eu domain names. During the sunrise period, if two applicants had a prior right to the same name, the Registry accepted the application that it received first.

The same principle now applies to applications from the general public, from 7 April 2006.

Administrative rules on how to register domain names are laid down in the Registry’s registration policy. The registration policy, rules, terms and conditions and guidelines can all be found on the Registry web site -
http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/ListRegistrars.htm?lang=en.

How much will it cost?

This is a matter for the Registry (EurID), but also for the registrars in Member States. The EURid website already lists hundreds of registrars who compete with each other to register names. Customers can therefore shop around to find the best deal on price, quality, and services offered. The .eu Regulation stipulates that the Registry will be a non-profit organization and that any fees that the Registry charges the registrars must relate to costs incurred. For further information concerning the cost of domain name registration visit EURid on
http://www.eurid.eu/.

Registering domain names under .eu should not be very expensive. The Registry will make a basic €10 charge to cover administration costs. The fees charged by Registrars vary according to the services they offer. The total fees charged (by Registrar and Registry) may be as low as €12 in some cases, but considerably more in others.

Registrations made during sunrise period (the first 4 months) were somewhat more expensive than this, since the cost of verifying supporting documents for trademarks and other prior rights had to be passed on to applicants.

Consumers are advised to check carefully the offers of the registrars, since their prices and services may differ substantially. We are in any event confident that applicants should be able to find the registrar that best meets their needs and budget.

Who can register a .eu domain name?

Anybody who lives in the European Union plus companies, organisations, businesses that are established in the EU (e.g. have a branch office in a Member State). Nationality of an EU Member State is not a prerequisite.

Why is it necessary to have an establishment or a residence within the EU to have a domain name under .eu?

The condition to have an establishment or a residence within a given territory is a customary prerequisite for a number of ccTLDs (for instance in Canada, Japan or Norway). The reason why the European Union has decided to include this prerequisite is to improve the legal security of this domain name. By ensuring that holders of a domain name have a well-established link with the territory of the European Union, we intend to ensure that users of the .eu TLD are subject to our legal standards of protection.

May I register a “.eu” name if I live in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland?

Not yet, but the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) have begun discussions with a view to extending the scope of the .eu Top Level Domain to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Businesses and individuals from these three countries could apply for a .eu domain name already now if they are established in an EU country (e.g. if they have a branch office / postal address in the EU).

Switzerland cannot be included in these talks as is not a member of the EEA.

May I register a “.eu” name if I live in Bulgaria, Romania, or Turkey?

Not until these countries become EU Member States or some other arrangement has been negotiated to extend the scope of the .eu Top Level Domain to these countries.

Businesses and individuals from these three countries could apply for a .eu domain name already now if they are established in an EU country (e.g. if they have a branch office / postal address in the EU).

How can I become an accredited registrar?
Companies interested in becoming a .eu registrar will have to sign a registrar agreement with the Registry. Please see

http://registrar.eurid.eu/en/registrar/become-a-registrar/becoming-a-registrar

How do you pronounce “.eu”?

That’s the choice of the speaker and depends on the language: dot-eu in English, point-eu en français, Punkt-EU auf Deutsch, punto-eu in italiano, and so on.

Pourquoi “.eu” et non pas “.ue » ?

To keep things short when the European Union went online over a decade ago, rather than use something lengthy such as “European Union” or “Union européenne”, the Latin name “Europa” was chosen for the server. This has worked well. The name for the common currency in, at present, 12 Member States, is even shorter: “Euro”. When something even shorter was needed for the new Top Level Domain, “.eu” seemed the obvious choice: From Europa to Euro to “.eu”.

Who runs .eu?

While the European Commission, together with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, has created the legal framework for “.eu” by means of EU legislation, the .eu top level domain is managed and operated by a private, not-for-profit Registry, EURid. It was created by the three national registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden and selected by the Commission following an open call for expressions of interest.

Applications to register domain names must be made not to EURid itself, but to one of its accredited registrars. A list of all registrars and the languages in which registration is offered, can be found on:
http://list.eurid.eu/registrars/

During the registration process registrars ask end users for various contact and technical information keep records of the contact information and submit the technical information to a central directory known as the Registry.

The registry then inserts this information into a centralized database and enables it to be placed in Internet zone files so that domain names can be found around the world via the World Wide Web and E-mail. End users are also required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets forth the terms under which registrations are accepted and maintained.

Has the Commission done anything to prevent abusive registrations?

Yes. It is precisely to prevent such registrations that the sunrise period was established.

Prior to the start of the registrations under .eu, there was a "sunrise period" which allowed holders of certain rights (e.g. trademarks, geographical indications, copyright) to apply to register the corresponding .eu domain name before the registration of domain names was opened to the wide public without restrictions.

During the sunrise period, applicants had 40 days to provide proof of the prior right to a name – otherwise such names were released and made available for others to register on a first-come-first served basis from 07 April 2006.

A streamlined Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure was established to help deal with any dispute or competing claims to a domain name between particular applicants or with the Registry.

Why has the system taken several years to set up?

For a legal framework that needs the approval of both Parliament and Council, a time span of at least two years is quite normal. The Commission has also taken the time to seek the advice of the EU citizens and industry at every stage of this project. This has included consultations before and after drafting the regulations, on the shape of the registration policy and on how best to ensure that the alternative dispute resolution system works.

Furthermore, the European Union has sought to create a system with the highest possible degree of certainty as to the law and protection for consumers. This has entailed creating new tools not previously tested by any other TLD (i.e. a sunrise with two phases that accepts non-registered rights or family names).

What is the role of the EU Institutions now that the .eu TLD has been launched?

The European Union has entrusted EURid to take care of the management of the .eu TLD until October 2009 at least. During that time, the Commission will merely supervise the work of the Registry to ensure that it complies with the legal framework that has been created for it; however we will not take any active part in the operations of the Registry.

What happens when someone tries to register a generic name under .eu such as “hotel” or “politics”?

The question of how to handle generic names is not a question specific to .eu, but a general question of trade mark law and related rights. How do you treat names such as Apple, Windows, Blackberry, Sun, Orange? – all of these are certainly generic names, but trade marks at the same time.

This is precisely the reason why there was a Sunrise Period during the launch of .eu – to find out, whether a trade mark had already been registered for a certain name. Whether somebody has lawfully registered a name as trademark is a question of trade mark law. This question is, of course, not to be decided by the .eu Registry, but must be decided between the different parties (laying claim to the name/trademark), if necessary in front of the national courts. EURid treats all registered trade mark rights as lawful, as long as the contrary has not been proven.

Is the Commission aware of cases of abusive use of the Sunrise registration procedures, and how is it reacting?

Every introduction of a new Top Level Domain poses the question of how to avoid abuse as much as possible. For this reason the European Parliament and the Council have adopted EU-regulations which lay down the legal rules that have to be follow for a registration under .eu. For further info see: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/doteu/index_en.htm

We are aware that a number of applications filed during the Sunrise may rely on prior rights that have apparently been obtained for speculative reasons. However, the legal framework established for the .eu Top Level Domain does not allow the Commission or the Registry to discriminate amongst prior rights holders. All prior rights enjoy by law a “presumption of validity” and therefore they must be considered valid unless the contrary is proven.

European Legislation has given holders of prior rights the necessary tools for defending themselves against abuses from third parties. These tools are notably the Sunrise Period and the Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure (ADR). The ADR is a fast track extra-judicial system for the settlement of conflicts, which applies without prejudice to any Court proceedings that an interested party may initiate against a holder of a domain name or against a decision of the Registry.

Questions about the technical details or specific instances should be directed to Eurid directly (http://www.eurid.eu/en/general/ ).

How does the Commission react to claims that “bogus” registrars have been registering .eu domain names?

The Commission cannot instruct the Registry EURid to ban any of its accredited Registrars on the basis of suspicions as to their probable behaviour or motivations. In a case where there is evidence that a registrar has acted in a way that is contrary to the .eu Regulations, appropriate measures will be taken.

When is the Commission changing to .eu?

All Community Institutions will be changing over to the .eu Top Level Domain with effect from 9 May 2006. It is not just the Commission.

This choice of date is symbolic – as it is the “Europe Day”, which commemorates the declaration of Robert Schuman, which led to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community.

From 9 May 2006, the Institutions web addresses which presently end in “.eu.int” (the international Top Level Domain) will simply become “.eu”.

For example Europa http://europa.eu will change to http://europa.eu and Commission Email addresses with the format firstname.lastname@ec.europa.eu will become firstname.lastname@ec.europa.eu

Old and new addresses will continue to work side-by-side for at least one year.

The Commission’s move towards .eu is led by Vice President Siim Kallas, who is sponsoring the general move towards an eCommission.

What is the cost of making such a changeover, and is it worth it?

We have estimated that the cost of migrating the servers of the European Institutions to the .eu domain will amount to approximately €430.000 in informatics hardware and manpower. This compares to an annual expenditure on informatics of about €120 million – so the migration is comfortably under a half of 1% of this. New informatics hardware is needed because there will be a transitional period of at least one year during which it will be necessary to keep both the old and the new addresses up and running.

It is only natural for the Institutions to pursue all viable means of improving their visibility and the public’s perception that they are European administrations. Indeed, the public would expect to follow the Institutions lead in taking a European identity, and there would be many doubts and questions raised were we not to do so. Seen in terms of the “image” and on-line identity of the Institutions, our investment in .eu is very good value.

Other public administrations in the Member States are normally and quite properly investing much higher amounts in other ways of strengthening their own visibility and “brand” of services.

Is Europe now creating its “own internet”?

Certainly not. The Internet is a global infrastructure and a cornerstone of worldwide exchange of ideas and commerce. Europe’s Top Level Domain “.eu” will therefore become part of the worldwide family of internet Top Level Domains and has been created in close coordination with the non-profit organisation Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the domain name system worldwide.

If you view the internet as the global village, then “.eu” is just another street added to it. We of course hope that it will soon become a big boulevard but any European user is of course free to use any other street, just as internet surfers from around the globe can use the new street that is called .eu.

To ensure smooth progress on the new street and on all the other streets, ICANN and the Commission agreed on the creation of the .eu TLD prior to the adoption of the EU rules on .eu. On 21 March 2005, ICANN officially recognized the Diegem-based organisation EURid, the body selected by the Commission, as the body appointed by the European Union to run the .eu TLD for the next five years. Thereafter, the .eu TLD was put in the root on 2 May 2005.


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