EC signs deal for '.eu' domain

Brief: The prospect of long-awaited .eu domain names has come one step closer to reality, though details of how the domain will be introduced have still not been spelt out

The European Commission on Wednesday signed a contract with a consortium of three European registries to run the proposed .eu top-level domain.

EURid, which was created by the country-level registries of Belgium, Italy and Sweden, says it will now negotiate with ICANN to have .eu put in the root and, once that is done, intends to operate a 'sunrise' period for registrations.

During the two-month sunrise period, organisations who can prove ownership of a trademark registered in any of the 25 European countries will be given a chance to acquire their .eu domain names. After that, any person or organisation with an 'official address' in an EU country will for two months also have precedence. Once that two-month period is up, registrations will be open to all-comers.

Exact confirmation of the details of just how the sunrise period will operate have not been announced, and EURid is understood to not yet have drafted a dispute resolution procedure. In 2001, the .info sunrise period ended in catastrophe, prompting one high-level resignation at the organisation responsible.

EURid said it will establish a network of registrars across Europe, and publish a list of them on its Web site. EURid plans to limit the number of domain name registrars by only accepting those with a high annual turnover, though it has not said where that cut-off point will lie.

The organisation said registration will cost €10, and proposes to drop this to €5 after 12 months, though domain name registrars are likely to add a fee onto to these figures.