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MEMO/08/218

Brussels, 4 April 2008

Over 300,000 .eu web domains created in 2007: Frequently Asked Questions

What is .eu?

.eu is the European Union's Top Level Domain (TLD) that has been available since 7 April 2006 to all organisations with a seat in the EU and to every person resident in the EU. It does not replace the existing national country code TLDs in the EU (such as .de, .uk or .fr), but complements them and gives users the option of having an EU-wide identity for their ‘online presence’ – such as websites and email addresses.

For citizens, this TLD is a place in cyberspace where their rights as consumers and individuals are protected by European rules, standards and courts. For companies, a .eu TLD enhances their visibility within and beyond the EU single market, conveys a pan-European outlook and provides improved legal certainty, which in turn can foster electronic commerce and boost economic competitiveness and growth. Before .eu, firms wishing to take advantage of the single market had to either base their internet presence in one country or establish multiple presences for each of the EU countries in which they operated.

The creation of .eu was decided by the European Council of Heads of State or Government of all EU Member States in Lisbon in 2000 as part of the eEurope initiative. Thereafter, the legal framework for .eu was created by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers on a proposal from the European Commission.

What is a Top Level Domain (TLD)?

An internet domain name (for example www.europa.eu) is used to locate particular internet resources, such as web pages. 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. Generic TLDs include .com, .int, .net, .org, etc. Country code top level domains (ccTLDs) include .de, .uk and .fr. Each TLD is managed by a particular organisation, the registry, which registers the names associated with the TLD.

Have many companies and citizens registered already under .eu?

Since 7 April 2006 anyone established in the EU has been able to apply for .eu domain names (see IP/06/476). The right to apply for the registration of .eu names had been previously reserved to trademark holders and public bodies (from 7 December 2005 to 7 February 2006) and then had been extended to holders of other 'prior rights', such as company names or business identifiers (from 7 February to 7 April 2006).

To date, over 2.8 million .eu names have been registered, making .eu Europe's fourth most popular country code top level domain, and the ninth most popular TLD worldwide. Names were granted on a 'first come, first served' basis.
Within the European Union, .eu is only surpassed by the national top level domains (ccTLDs) for Germany and the UK, while globally only .com, .net, .cn, .org, and .info can claim more registrations. The strongest demand for .eu domain names so far has come from Germany (31%), The Netherlands (13%), the United Kingdom (13%), France (7%) and Italy (5%). The latest figures with a breakdown per country are available at:

http://www.eurid.eu/en/press-room/facts-figures

The immense success of .eu has not reduced interest in national domain names in the European Union. In contrast, the growth of .eu has coincided with an increase in the number of national domain names in most Member States. For instance, since October 2007, the growth in registrations under Germany's top level domain (.de) has been over 5%, whereas .uk (United Kingdom) and .nl (The Netherlands) growth was around 5% and 10%, respectively.

Are .eu domain names already used in practice?

.eu domain names are increasingly becoming a regular feature of Europe’s cyberspace and electronic market place.

Examples of companies actively using their .eu domain name include Bridgestone, Versace, Fragonard, Dexia, Milka and Stefanel. Examples of NGOs using .eu domain names include an alumni organisation of the ERASMUS MUNDUS student exchange programme. A number of companies including Lexus, Leen Bakker, Kyocera and Sony began using .eu domain in their advertising campaigns.

Now that the initial surge of registrations has passed, there is an increasing trend towards using .eu domains immediately when they are been registered as opposed to simply registering them as a precautionary measure until further decision on their use.

On 9 May 2006, the EU institutions' entire website, and all their email addresses, were switched over to .eu. From that day on, the EU institutions offer a single gateway for all European citizens within the .eu TLD: www.europa.eu.

Who is responsible for managing .eu?

In line with the principles of 'better regulation' and common practice in this field, the management of the .eu domain names has been entrusted to a private, independent, not-for-profit organisation called EURid, which serves as Registry for the .eu TLD.

EURid was created by the three national registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden with associated members from the Czech Republic and Slovenia. EURid was selected by the Commission in 2003 following an open call for expressions of interest.

EURid operates independently of the European Commission, under a contract concluded for an initial period of five years, which allows only for a general supervisory role of the Commission. This clear separation of duties has been deliberately laid down in EC Regulation 733/2002 to ensure an independent day-to-day management of .eu, similar to the way country code TLDs or generic TLDs are managed worldwide. Since the entry into force of the contract on 12 October 2004, this has not entailed Commission involvement in the daily business of EURid.

For further information on EURid: http://www.eurid.eu/en/about

Press contact at EURiD:

Patrik Lindén, Communications Manager

Email: press@eurid.eu

Ph +32 (0)2 4012793 (direct)

Ph +32 (0)2 401 27 50 (switchboard)

Ph +32 (0)475 72 05 32 (Belgian mobile)

Ph +46 (0)70 550 71 98 (Swedish mobile)

Who can register a .eu domain name?

Any EU resident and any company, organisation, business that is established in the EU (e.g. has a branch office in a Member State) can register a .eu domain name. Nationality of an EU Member State is not a prerequisite. The retail price for the registration of a domain name under .eu starts at around €10.

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 EURid 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://www.eurid.eu/en/eu-domain-names/registrar-list

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 the central directory, EURid.

EURid then inserts this information into a centralised database and enables it to be placed in internet zone files so that domain names can be found around the world for web, email or other applications. End users are also required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets out the terms under which registrations are accepted and maintained.

Administrative rules on how to register domain names are laid down in the EURid’s registration policy. The registration policy, rules, terms and conditions and guidelines can all be found on the website http://www.eurid.eu/en/eu-domain-names. Administrative rules on how to register domain names are also found on EUrid's website.

What has been done to fight against abusive registrations and fraud with regard to .eu-registrations?

To minimise the risk of cybersquatting within the .eu TLD, the European legislator created three tools that allow end users to preserve their rights: the reservation of names for Member States and EU institutions, the phased registration period and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure.

What happens if there is a dispute about a .eu domain name?

TLD disputes arise inevitably under all domain name systems because of the considerable commercial value that a specific domain name may represent, particularly for businesses.

To ensure an easier and quick resolution of domain name disputes under .eu, the EU’s legal framework for the registration of domain names under .eu provides for an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure and lays down clear rules for implementing it. An ADR is usually faster, often cheaper and more convenient than a traditional court case.

ADRs for the .eu TLD are handled by the Prague-based Czech Arbitration Court, an independent body selected by EURid. Disputes may be initiated against bad faith or abusive registrations of domain names under the .eu TLD from third parties or against decisions taken by the Registry EURid. The Czech Arbitration Court offers its services in all official EU languages. Its rulings are legally binding, unless a losing party chooses to appeal the decision through a conventional court of law. Cases are conducted online, and the correspondence between all parties occurs via email. The ADR procedure is described in detail on http://www.adr.eu/.

After the first year of operations, the number of the disputes has significantly decreased from 729 in 2006 to 167 in 2007. In 2006 most disputes were filed against decisions of the Registry EURid, whereas now disputes are initiated against the holders of .eu domain names only.

In view of the good results during the first year of operations, the Czech Arbitration Court lowered its fees by 7% as of 1 January 2007 and by 10% as of 1 January 2008. These reductions add to a 10% discount on the ADR Fees applicable to the parties who use advanced electronic signatures for the ADR Proceedings.

Further info:

http://www.eurid.eu/

http://europa.eu.int/information_society/policy/doteu/


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