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.eu passes 3 million mark - briefing

14 January 2009
by eub2 -- last modified 14 January 2009

The three millionth .eu domain name was registered on 11 January by a German citizen. Two and a half years after its launch, this confirms the success of the .eu top-level internet domain. It is the fourth most popular internet domain among European country domains and the ninth worldwide. By promoting a distinctly European online identity .eu helps citizens and businesses to reap the full benefits of the single market. Multinational companies and SMEs, NGOs and think tanks as well as individual Europeans have all adopted .eu to mark their web presence.


What is .eu?

The .eu Top Level Domain (TLD) 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 .pl), 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, .eu is a place in cyberspace where their rights as consumers and individuals are protected by European rules and standards. For companies, .eu enhances their visibility within and beyond the EU single market, conveys a pan-European outlook, 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 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. The right to apply for the registration of .eu names had been initially reserved to trademark holders and public bodies (from 7 December 2005 to 7 February 2006) and was then extended to holders of other 'prior rights', such as company names or business identifiers (from 7 February to 7 April 2006).

To date, 3 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 are granted on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Within the European Union, .eu is only surpassed by the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) for Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, while globally only .com, .cn, .net, .org and .info can claim more registrations. The strongest demand for .eu domain names so far has come from Germany (30%), The Netherlands (14%), the United Kingdom (12%), France (8%) and Poland (6%).

Latest figures with a breakdown per country

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, in 2008, the growth in registrations under Germany's top level domain (.de) was 7%, whereas .uk (United Kingdom) and .nl (The Netherlands) grew by around 11% and 18%, 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, Versace©, Fragonard©, Dexia©, UniCredit©, Milka©, Unilever© 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 Van Gils©, Leen Bakker©, 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:

Who is responsible for managing .eu?

Following the Commission's policy of pursuing 'better regulation', as well as common practice in the management of top level domains, the management of .eu domain names has been entrusted to EURid, a private, independent non-profit organisation that serves as a registry for the .eu TLD.

EURid was created by the national registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden (later joined by the Czech and the Slovenian registries as associated members). EURid was selected by the Commission in 2003 following an open call for expressions of interest.

EURid is an independent body operating under a contract concluded with the Commission in 2004 for an initial period of five years under which the Commission has a general supervisory role. This clear separation of duties has been deliberately laid down in EU law when .eu was set up (Regulation 733/2002) to ensure 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.

Who can register a .eu domain name?

Any EU resident and any company, organisation or business established in the EU (having a branch office in an EU Member State, for instance) can register a .eu domain name. It is not necessary to have the nationality of an EU Member State. The retail price for the registration of a domain name under .eu starts at around €5.

How can I register a .eu domain name?

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

List of registrars - EURid website

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 EURid.

EURid puts this information in a centralised database and enables it to be published and propagated on the internet so that domain names can be found around the world for web, email or other applications. Applicants for a .eu internet domain are also required to enter a registration contract with the registrar setting out terms and conditions.

EURid’s registration policy sets out rules for registering domain names.

Registration policy, rules, terms and conditions and guidelines - EURid website

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

To minimise the risk of abusive and speculative registrations within the .eu TLD, the European legislator created three tools for end users to preserve their rights:

  • the reservation of names for Member States and EU institutions...
  • the phased registration period, during which .eu registrations were available only to organisations and individuals, such as trademark holders, who could prove that they had prior rights to a particular name and, as a result, were entitled to claim the corresponding .eu domain name.
  • the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure to solve disputes concerning domain names under the “.eu” TLD.

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 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 traditional court proceedings.

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.

ADR procedure

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 information - EURID

Source: European Commission

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