Web addresses / URLs
All official websites of the European Institutions and Agencies must use URL addresses in the second level domain europa.eu with the following syntax: (ec.)europa.eu/sitename. All parts of a URL must contain English text only and must be written in lower case. An exception are promotional URLs that can contain any official language of the EU as long as the URL only contains alphanumerical characters.
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For the purposes of consistency of presentation, search engine optimization and to project a corporate identity of the EUROPA pages, there are several requirements related to the creation of web addresses and file names.
europa.eu is the common domain of the EU institutions
Following a decision of the Secretariat-General, the web pages of the European institutions are using a common second level domain europa.eu. The use of other second level domain names is not allowed for hosting official EU sites. Nevertheless in order to protect them from abuse by third parties a certain number of second level domain names have been reserved by the EU institutions at the start up of the .eu domain.
Naming rules in the europa.eu domain
The second level domain europa.eu is managed by the Commission.
The document "Règles et procédures pour l’attribution d’adresses de sites web gérés par les institutions, organes et organismes de l’Union européenne dans le domaine .eu" issued by the Interinstitutional Editorial Committee for Internet (CEiii) describes the detailed rules for allocation of higher level domain names within the europa.eu domain.
The names of the institutions’ and agencies' sites are composed by adding a third level identification (for example for the Commission ec.europa.eu or the Parliament europarl.europa.eu)
Executive agencies of the Commission can have their own fourth level domain name within the third level domain ec.europa.eu.
Third level names other than institution names can be attributed for special sites, subject to the approval of the CEiii. The creation of such third level names should nevertheless be the exception. Preference must be given to the creation of sites within the europa.eu or ec.europa.eu domain.
Allocation of site names within the europa.eu or ec.europa.eu domain is governed by the rules explained in the section 'Types of websites' .
Generally speaking the following rules apply:
- Institution independent sites or sites that have an interinstitutional mission and content should use a sub-address of the europa.eu domain. These sites will always target the general public. They must use the Interinstitutional template; no specific institution should claim the 'ownership' of the site, even if the site is exclusively managed by that particular institution or DG.
- Commission sites should use a sub-address in the ec.europa.eu domain and the Commission template. Commission sites will mostly target a more specialised public, but can contain sections that are more oriented towards the general public.
Use of short names
As explained in the section 'Types of sites', it is important to keep a homogeneous approach to the site structure of the Commission sites. Information about a specific topic should be presented in the context of the policy to which it belongs. This can however create naming problems when that topic needs special promotion because of its high importance. The URL of the subsite presenting the topic can be too long to be promoted.
To answer this problem, shorter 'virtual' addresses can be created that will redirect to the real address.
- Example: http://ec.europa.eu/roaming redirecting to http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm
If you on the other hand are looking for a short version of a EUROPA-related URL, using a random code, please follow the instructions available on the URL Shortener page.
Syntax of URLs and their promotion
Websites must use the following syntax: (ec.)europa.eu/sitename.
All parts of a URL must contain English text only. An exception are promotional URLs that can contain any official language of the EU as long as the URL only contains alphanumerical characters.
URLs must not be promoted to the general public before the URLs have been approved and set up. The address must be checked in a browser before being used (e.g. social media, press releases), printed on promotional material (e.g. posters, leaflets) or referred to in audio/video materials.
URLs must not be printed in upper case: (EC.)EUROPA.EU/SITENAME is not the same as (ec.)europa.eu/sitename and the upper case examples will not work.
Sites must be structured by subject, and not by language. Files are not segregated into separate language-specific directories. Rather, language must be reflected in the name of the web pages themselves. Thus, all the different language versions of any given document must be found together in a single directory.
Filenames for different language versions of the same web document are assigned as follows: The 'base-name' for each version must be exactly the same, and expressed in English.
A suffix is added to the 'base-name', preceded by an underscore character '_', indicating the language of the document, followed by the file extension. The 'standard suffix' uses the ISO abbreviation for the language in question (_bg, _cs, _da, _de, _et, _el, _en, _es, _fr, _ga, _it, _lv, _lt, _hr, _hu, _mt, _nl, _pl, _pt, _ro, _sk, _sl, _fi, _sv) (as in index_en.htm, index_bg.htm, index_cs.htm…).
The multilingual index page used as default has to be named without any language suffix.
All names of directories and files must be in lower case to avoid problems of compatibility between platforms which are case-sensitive (e.g. UNIX) and those which are not (e.g. DOS/Windows).
Multiple word names
In case a file name or URL contains multiple words, it is necessary to separate these words by preferably hyphen '-' (Correct: multiple-words_en.htm) or underscore '_' (Correct: multiple_words_en.htm). While there is no technical difference between these two options, words separated by hyphens are more intelligible to search engines and webmasters are urged to choose them.
For reasons of clarity and search engine optimization, the use of merged multiple word names is not allowed (Incorrect: multiplewords_en.htm). For the same reasons the file names should be meaningful words or phrases and not series of numbers (Incorrect: 546846321_en.htm).
Do not include unnecessary words such as 'and' and 'the' on the folder and file names.