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European Commission Backtracks Decision on .EU Domains

European Commission Backtracks Decision on .EU Domains

European Commission Backtracks Decisions on EU domains

Westminster isn’t the only place where Brexit is causing issues. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) is also causing problems in Brussels where the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, is struggling with what to do with UK registered .eu domains once the UK has left. At one point, it looked like it had decided upon its options, however, it has now reversed one of its key decisions. If you are a registered .eu domain holder, this change may affect you. Here, we’ll show you what’s changed and explain what it’s impact could be.

The EU’s original stance

Since the UK referendum, the European Commission has been planning what should be done with the .eu domains which were registered to individuals or businesses based in the UK. During the interceding years, it has made a number of statements on the matter.

At the beginning of 2019, it finally concluded that following the UK exit, .eu domains could only be registered to individuals or organisations which were geographically located within one of the remaining EU states. As a result:

  • Companies based in the UK would no longer be allowed to register or renew a .eu domain.
  • Any UK company wishing to have a .eu domain would need to have a subsidiary located within the EU where it could transfer registration to.
  • Any citizen of the remaining EU countries who lived or ran a business based in the UK would also be unable to register or renew a .eu domain. They, also, would be required to transfer registration to an individual or organisation within the EU.

This arrangement also prohibited the transfer of domain names to any other organisation within the UK and prevented registration from being extended unless it was transferred to an EU based registrant. Automatic domain renewals were also to cease, with all formerly UK registered .eu domains being revoked and made available for registration by other individuals or organisations in the EU.

There were also plans to cover both deal and no-deal scenarios. These concerned the timings of which these new rules came into place, with action happening much quicker in the event of a no-deal.

What’s in the new policy?

EURid, the organisation the EU has put in place to administer .eu domain registration, has backtracked on one of the key decisions it made in January. This relates to the statement which concerns EU citizens living in the UK.

In its latest announcement, it states that following Brexit (scheduled for 31st October – but watch this space!) EU citizens who are resident in the UK will still be allowed to keep their .eu domains. To make this possible, it will issue new eligibility criteria on 19th October that will appertain to citizenship.

While those criteria are not fully explained, it indicates that from October 19th, any EU citizen, regardless of where they reside, whether in the UK or elsewhere, will be allowed to register a .eu domain.

What about UK citizens and businesses?

Unfortunately, the pending regulation regarding UK citizens and UK based businesses remains in place. Those affected, together with non-EU foreign nationals based in the UK, will still be prohibited from registering or renewing their .eu domains and will be unable to transfer them anywhere outside of the EU.

In addition, their .eu domains will, at some point (the timing of which depends on whether there’s a deal or no-deal), be revoked. When this happens, EURid will make them available within the EU.

Is this the last update?

This is the fourth European Commission update regarding .eu domains since the referendum, which is an indication that the EU is still working out exactly what its final position will be on the matter. With that in mind, it is possible that a further statement may be issued. However, Boris Johnson’s arrival at No. 10 makes it much more likely that we will leave by the due date of 31st October 2019, in which case, there is little time left for further developments.

Do we need to worry about the loss of .eu domains?

.eu domains are not particularly popular within the UK, with most businesses preferring to use UK specific TDLs, like .co.uk, at home and single country TDLs, like .fr, or .de, when trading abroad.  International organisations often opt for .com, .net or .org which have global rather than just EU value. Indeed, .eu is perhaps only useful for companies that trade internationally throughout the EU but nowhere else or which see value in a single .eu domain name over individual country TDLs. For many companies, the goal of registering a .eu domain is simply to prevent someone else getting their hands on it. Indeed, with hundreds of domain extensions now available, the loss of the .eu domain to the UK might not be such a big deal.

However, if you are a UK citizen or company that only has a .eu domain for your website, you will need to act quickly to find an alternative TDL, such as .uk, .co.uk or .com. If so, check out our Domains Page.

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