Domain names in the .eu top-level domain will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis from next April, according to the consortium responsible for the .eu registry. Eurid asbl/vzw, a legal entity registered in Belgium, has revised its timetable for setting up the registry, following publication by the European Commission on April 30 of operating rules for the domain.
Eurid will run the registry for the .eu domain on the European Union’s behalf, but won’t sell domain names directly: to do that, it will select a number of registrars, which it now plans to begin recruiting in June or July, according to a tentative time-table published on its Web site (http://www.eurid.org) on May 3.
In December, the registrar hopes to begin accepting preregistrations for trademarks and names of public bodies. Member states will be able to reserve their country names in their own and other languages — so for example the French government will be able to reserve France, Frankreich, Francia and so on. Two-letter country codes will also be reserved. Other countries hoping to join the E.U. in the future will also be able to reserve their country name, so Europe’s turkey farmers will have to look for another domain name.
The regulation published in the Official Journal of the European Union sets out a procedure for resolving disputes, concluding that if a name is contested, in the absence of any strong legal claim to a name, the domain goes to whoever applied for it first. Disputes will be heard by a panel of up to three independent members.
The Commission’s regulation calls for a four-month waiting period, during which such protected names can be reserved, before the doors are opened to the general public, meaning that the .eu domain could go live and begin accepting general registrations in April 2005. For now, no registrars have been appointed and it is not possible to preregister domain names, Eurid said — news that will surely come as a blow to those companies already claiming to accept preregistrations for .eu domains.
Before Eurid can begin operations it must translate its documentation and legal agreements into the E.U.’s official languages, in order to comply with the regulation. With the arrival of ten new member states on May 1, the 25-member E.U. now has 20 official languages, some of them (notably Slovene, Estonian and Maltese) spoken by less than one per cent of the E.U. population