Citizens of the European Union no matter where they reside in the world will be able to register .eu domain names in 2019, according to new rules announced on 5 December following an agreement by the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission.
Currently any person resident or business established in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway can register a domain name for the European Union’s top level domain (TLD). The new rules will expand the eligibility criteria surrounding the .eu TLD and will also allow non-European Union citizens residing in the EU to register .eu domain names.
Negotiators agreed on the reform of the .eu TLD to adapt its current rules to the fast-changing domain name market in order to strengthen its link with the growing Digital Single Market, which focusses on European values like multilingualism, privacy protection and security.
The deal will now be put to the Industry, Research and Energy Committee and plenary for approval as well as the Council. The Regulation will enter into force in 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal. The Regulation shall apply from 13 October 2022 except for the provisions on who may register a .eu TLD. These provisions shall apply from six months after the entry into force of this Regulation.
The reforms have been framed by the European Parliament as being “necessary since much has changed since the first .eu top-level domain (TLDs) was used for the first time 13 years ago. The rapid evolution of the TLDs market and the digital landscape in general require a more flexible regulatory environment.”
There are also 2 changes to improve .eu governance. The first is the establishment of an advisory “Multistakeholder Council” that will be composed of representatives drawn by the European Commission from the private sector, the technical community, Member States, civil society and academia. These will assist and advise the Commission on the correct implementation of the Regulation and on the management of the .eu domain name.
The second is new supervisory powers will be given to the Commission vis-à-vis the Registry. With the new Regulation, the Commission will be able to better supervise the organisation, administration and management of the .eu TLD and verify the Registry’s compliance with the Regulation.
“I am pleased that the agreement strengthens rules on transparency, fairness and accountability and in particular, I am delighted that we have successfully strengthened provisions securing the principle of Rule of Law,” said rapporteur Fredrick Federley (ALDE, Sweden).
The changes are also a response to Brexit with Britain set to leave the EU in 2019, although this isn’t certain. With Britain leaving the EU, all .eu registrants residing in the UK were set to lose their domain name. Now at least any EU citizen residing in Britain will get to keep their domain name.
.eu is currently managed by EURid, a private, independent, non-profit organisation that has operated the .eu under contract to the Commission since 2003.