On 5 December, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission reached an agreement on the new rules for the .eu top level domain (TLD).

The new rules will allow the .eu TLD to cope more effectively with a fast-changing domain name market and to support better and more innovative services to EU citizens and businesses.

At the same time, as the Digital Single Market grows and develops, we look forward to seeing many more people and businesses making use of the .eu, as an important way to participate in the DSM and mark their European identity online and their attachment to European values such as multilingualism, privacy protection, and security.

The updated rules will foster the achievement of this goal through the new eligibility criteria that will allow all EU/EEA citizens, regardless of where they live, to register a .eu domain. Currently, any person resident or business established in the EU can do so, but the new proposal extends this right to EU citizens residing outside the EU. EU citizens will thus be able to connect using their European Internet identity wherever they are in the world.

A principle-based Regulation

Overall, the proposal aims to modernise the .eu legal framework, by establishing a principles-based Regulation. By doing so, the proposal provides the necessary flexibility for the .eu TLD to adapt to rapid market changes such as, for example, the competition arising from the introduction of new generic top-level domains.

By moving the detailed principles and procedures from the Regulation to the contract between the Commission and the Registry operator, new developments in the functioning of the .eu domain name could be introduced by contractual revision rather than co-legislative or comitology process. Consequently, users will enjoy the benefits of technical improvements without having to wait for the Regulations to be amended.

Moreover, through specific contractual provisions and without prejudice to the application of the rules on fair competition, the Commission has the option of extending the Registry’s scope of services, which would facilitate the marketing of .eu within underserved markets and communities.

A modernised governance for the .eu

The new proposal also improves the governance of the .eu domain in two ways:

  • it establishes an advisory “multistakeholder Council” - composed by representatives drawn by the Commission from the private sector, the technical community, Member States, civil society and academia - to assist and advise the Commission on the correct implementation of the Regulation and on the management of the .eu domain name.
  • it provides new supervisory powers to the Commission vis-à-vis the Registry. With the new Regulation, the Commission will be able to better supervise the organisation, administration and management of the .eu TLD and verify the Registry’s compliance with the Regulation.

This modernised and strengthened governance structure, while ensuring the highest standards, will give the Internet multi-stakeholder community the opportunity to contribute to the management and services of the .eu TLD, in line with the EU's approach to internet governance.

The .eu domain is currently managed by EURid, a private, independent, non-profit organisation that has operated the .eu under contract to the Commission since 2003.