Sunday, November 27, 2005

Businesses Doing Business in the EU Should Get .EU Domains

We posted previously on the fact that launch dates for .eu domains have been announced and that EURid will be the domain registry (see the EURid site here). As a technical matter for IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority of ICANN), the .eu domain is listed there as the equivalent of a country-code TLD (ccTLD).

As written by the EU Commission:

"Why have a .eu Top Level Domain?
The .eu TLD will be a new Top level Domain, introduced for use by individuals, organisations and companies in the European Union. It will not replace the existing national ccTLDs in the EU, but will complement them and give users the additional option of having a pan-European Internet identity for their web sites and e-mail addresses.

"The EU is one of the biggest users of the Internet in the world and the introduction of a .eu TLD will create even more opportunities to exploit this exciting technology."

Struan Robertson, Editor of OUT-LAW.COM, has an insightful article on "Why you should register a .eu domain name" even if your organization already has the domain it wants as a generic TLD (.com, .net, .org) or as a country-coded top level domain in Europe. The country codes for the current 25 EU Member States are:

.at - Austria
.be - Belgium
.cy - Cyprus
.cz - Czech Republic
.de - Germany (.de is for Deutschland)
.dk - Denmark
.ee - Estonia (.ee because .es was already assigned to Spain)
.es - Spain ( .es because of Spanish EspaƱa = Spain)
.fi - Finland
.fr - France
.gr - Greece
.hu - Hungary
.ie - Ireland
.it - Italy
.lt - Lithuania
.lu - Luxembourg
.lv - Latvia
.mt - Malta
.nl - The Netherlands
.pl - Poland
.pt - Portugal
.se - Sweden
.si - Slovenia (this is .SI and not .SL, because .sl was assigned to Sierra Leone)
.sk - Slovak Republic
.uk - United Kingdom (.gb is also reserved by IANA but not used)

Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 provides:

"Candidate countries that are not due to join the European Union in May 2004 and member countries of the European Economic Area that are not Member States may request that their official name and the name under which they are commonly known in their own language and in any of the official languages as from May 2004 shall not be registered directly under the .eu TLD. To that end, those countries may send the Commission, within two months following entry into force of this Regulation, a list of those names which are not to be registered."

The EEA countries and their country codes are:

.is - Iceland
.no - Norway
.li - Liechtenstein

The EU Candidate Countries are:

Acceding Countries
.bg - Bulgaria
.ro - Romania
Candidate Countries
.tr - Turkey
.hr - Croatia (Hrvatska)
Potential Candidate Countries
.al - Albania
.ba - Bosnia and Herzegovina
.mk - The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
.cs - Serbia and Montenegro
?? - Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244

Applicable to all registrations by all countries is the following provision regarding the country codes:

"Alpha-2 codes representing countries shall not be used to register domain names directly under the .eu TLD."

There is no question that the introduction of the .eu top level domain will diminish the importance of the European country codes in the long term, although the short-term impact may be less pronounced, because many of the country coded websites are tied to language differences. However, multilingual sites now resident at the country-coded pages will most certainly ultimately migrate to the .eu domain, leaving the country-code pages in only the language of origin of the website. A good example here would be the many travel sites. Someone looking for city information in English concerning a European city will almost certainly gravitate toward .eu domains rather than to the country-code websites. One country that is bound to suffer under this system in the long term is Switzerland, which is neither an EU Member State nor a member of EEA, nor is it an EU candidate. (Switzerland [Confoederatio Helvetica, whence the "ch"] has .ch as its ccTLD).

Robertson states clearly that the main reason to register .eu domains now is to save money and avoid trouble down the road.

Organizations which do not get .eu domains now may find that someone else will take the respective .eu domain names. Later, this may involve legal squabbles and arbitration, events which are guaranteed to be extremely expensive.

It would thus seem to be much simpler and cheaper to just register the appropriate .eu domains.

As written by the EU Commission:

"How much will it cost?
The basic fee for the registration of a domain name during the first year will be of €10. However, applications have to be filed through registrars that will add their own costs to that fee. Different registrars may offer different services. Prices thus vary."


This assumes of course that one is entitled to register an .eu domain in the first place, which is explained here. Essentially, if your organization does not have a business in the European Union, then you are not entitled to register an .eu domain unless you are an EU resident.

Some useful Links are:
The EU Regulations for the .eu top level domain
and also Public Policy Rules (PPR) for .eu
.

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