Brexit Sees Over 300,000 U.K.-Registered .EU Domain Names At Risk

It all depends. It depends on what transitional arrangements are put in place. It depends on what the ongoing agreements are. And it depends on even if Brexit happens, although it most likely will. But as of the end of 2017, 317,286 .eu domain name registrations with the U.K. listed as the country of registrant are at risk if Brexit goes ahead according to a notice from the European Union last week.

According to the notice, on the date that Britain withdraws from the European Union, any domain name registrants, businesses and individuals, that are based in the United Kingdom and do not have any offices in a remaining E.U. country, “will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names or, if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.” But it’s subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, which is an ongoing negotiation between the United Kingdom and European Commission.

There is also the risk that domain names may be revoked by the registry, EURid, with no questions asked. The notice from the E.C. states that “as of the withdrawal date and as a result of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a holder of a domain name does no longer fulfil the general eligibility criteria pursuant to Article 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) 733/2002, the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such domain name on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts in accordance with point (b) of Article 20, first subparagraph, of Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004.”

Currently the withdrawal date is 30 March 2019, just under 12 months away. The notice states that “subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, the EU regulatory framework for the .eu Top Level Domain will no longer apply to the United Kingdom as from the withdrawal date.”

The advice, while disappointing for U.K.-based registrants, will give affected registrants time for finding a new domain name and building a brand around the new domain. However due to the vagaries of what the final agreement will be, assuming it goes ahead, it’s even possible nothing might change. Which won’t be of much help to registrants if they go through changing their domain name, branding and other paraphernalia and then find out they didn’t need to change.

According to a post by Michele Neylon on his InternetNews.me blog, “EURid wouldn’t be supportive of the position being adopted by the Commission based on my recollection of discussions in the Advisory Board – they’d be more supportive of the “grandfathering” concept favoured by most ccTLDs.”

The advice from the E.C. is available from:
ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/notice-stakeholders-withdrawal-united-kingdom-and-eu-rules-eu-domain-names