'.eu' regulation published, but who's in charge?

European Union

EU ministers have published the regulation that establishes '.eu' as a new top-level domain, in the hope that a pan-European address will stimulate e-commerce in Europe. As part of the next phase - implementation - the European Commission will advertise for interested parties to apply to run the domain.

The '.eu' domain will not replace the existing country-code domains of member states; rather, it will be offered as an alternative. So, for example, a business in Portugal will be able to choose between the generic top-level domain '.com', the country-code top-level domain '.pt' and the new top-level domain '.eu'.

The next step of implementing the regulation involves the selection of a private, non-profit organization to manage '.eu'. The chosen body will be required to establish procedures to handle disputes and determine the manner of implementation in each of the EU member states.

Registration is expected to be made available later this year or early 2003. By that time one-third of the European population will be internet users, with an estimated $1 trillion in online turnover. In this huge market, it is hoped that a '.eu' domain name will make a product more visible and attractive to e-consumers.

For a background discussion of '.eu' see European Parliament gives '.eu' the go-ahead.

Cesar Bessa Monteiro, Abreu, Cardigos & Partners, Lisbon

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