03.04.2018

BREXIT and 300,000 Domain Names: EU Commission Decision on the .eu Top-Level Domain

As negotiations proceed towards the ultimate separation of the United Kingdom from the EU, the European Commission has come to a decision on European domain names: British businesses that are not also established in the EU and private individuals living in the UK will no longer fulfill the legal requirements to have a .eu URL. The Commission “Notice to Stakeholders”, published on 28 March 2018, warns that when Britain becomes a third country, such businesses and private parties will no longer be able to register or renew the registration of a .eu website address.

Unless a transitional arrangement is reached in the withdrawal agreement, this decision will impact not only the British businesses and private individuals themselves – of which over 300,000 have a .eu domain name – but also the domains industry on both sides of the Channel. According to figures from the .eu Registry, EURid, British-based .eu registrations make up nearly 10 percent of all .eu domain names.

Thomas Rickert, Director Names & Numbers at eco – Association of the Internet Industry, comments: “It now turns out that the European Commission has chosen the most disruptive option available by factually taking away domain names from their holders. Many registrants have made huge investments in promoting their domain names. These investments will likely be lost.”

The eco Names & Numbers Forum started discussing the impact of BREXIT on the domain industry and Top Level Domains requiring a local presence in the EU shortly after the BREXIT referendum (see the eco white paper “BREXIT – Challenges for the Domain Industry?”).

eco will continue to analyze the Commission’s decision and its impact and come up with suggestions to inform the debate.

In this context, the following questions, amongst others, will be discussed: What are the chances of a transitional arrangement? Is there any way that existing domain names can be retained after BREXIT even if new ones cannot be registered? How can registrars that handle .eu top-level domains and registrants that have URLs ending in .eu voice their concerns to the Commission about this decision?

The eco Names & Numbers Forum provides a platform where the domains industry can exchange ideas and develop solutions and strategies to face challenges – and members are invited to share their concerns and collaborate towards a solution for the European industry. The Names & Numbers Forum will be examining the options in the coming weeks and welcomes input from all members as to action that should be taken. Interested members can contact lars.steffen@eco.de or thomas.rickert@eco.de to join the discussion.

BREXIT Paper zur Domainindustrie erweitert