ICANN Gives Go-Ahead for .Eu Registration

Matt O'Conner
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — After a seven-year wait, companies will finally be able to register websites using .eu top-level domain names.

ICANN this week approved an application from the European Registry of Internet Domain names, or EURid, to begin accrediting .eu registrars and publish a list on its website.

The European Commission, an inter-government body that deals with European trade and commerce, first requested creation of the .eu in 1997, contending that creation of a Euro-centric top-level domain is a critical step in promoting the continent’s internal markets, e-commerce and a unified identity.

"This is the step we’ve all been waiting for,” said Xavier Buck, managing director of EuroDNS, one registrar hopeful to be accredited by EURid. “Our back office systems are already operational, and we can now begin the mammoth task of assembling and reviewing our applicant's data in preparation for the verification process later this summer.”

Despite Buck’s enthusiasm, however, companies will have to wait until at least Fall to begin registering sites with the .eu suffix. That’s when EURid plans to open up a four-month “sunrise period,” during which public organizations and holders of rights, such as company names and trademarks, will get first dibs on .eu domains.

“Offering holders of prior rights a genuine opportunity to protect their names is an essential step to building trust in the electronic marketplace and, in particular, the .eu top level domain,” said Marc Van Wesemael, EURid general manager.

Competition for .eu domains is expected to be heated, especially for English-language names such as business.eu, press.eu and sex.eu. To prevent cyber-squatting and avoid disputes over names, EURid has enlisted the Belgian arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers to validate “prior rights” claims during the sunrise period. After that, registrations will be open to all companies and granted on a first-come, first-served basis.