On 19 March 2019, the European Union adopted Regulation (eu) 2019/517 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 on the implementation and functioning of the .eu top-level domain name and amending and repealing Regulation (EC) No 733/2002 and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004, otherwise known as the .eu Regulation.
As its name indicates, the Regulation repeals its predecessors which were considered no longer adapted to the market, the political and legislative context and the online environment. With this Regulation the European Union has sought to future-proof the regulatory framework, in light of the fast-changing environment, and to promote the digital single market.
The Regulation also seeks to strengthen collaboration between the Registry, the European Union Intellectual Property Office and other EU agencies in order to combat speculative and abusive domain name registrations and to provide simple administrative procedures for small and medium enterprises.
Under the Regulation, registration of .EU domain names by EU citizens who do not reside in the EU will become possible as of 19 October 2019.
In addition, the Regulation gives the European Commission a number of responsibilities with regard to .EU domain names. The Commission must designate a Registry for the .EU Top Level Domain (TLD) in order to promote the digital single market and administrative simplicity. It is also required to enter into a contract with the designated Registry. The contract should contain the detailed principles and procedures that apply to the Registry for the organization, administration and management of the .EU TLD and that the Commission will monitor and supervise. The Commission is also in charge of adopting lists of reserved and blocked domain names per EU country.
The designated Registry is required to enter into a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and to enter into an escrow agreement to ensure service continuity. Still under the Commission’s supervision, the Registry will have to adopt clear policies to combat abusive registrations.
A Multistakeholder Advisory Group must be established by the Commission. It would be in charge of:
- Advising the Commission on the implementation of the Regulation;
- Issuing opinions to the Commission on strategic matters relating to the management, organisation and administration of the .EU TLD;
- Advising the Commission on matters relating to the monitoring and supervision of the Registry;
- Advising the Commission on best practices as regards policies and measures against abusive registrations of domain names. The Regulation, in contrast with EU directives, applies directly to the EU member states, without the requirement to pass national laws to implement the text.
This .EU Regulation came into effect on 18 April 2019 and will be applicable (and will repeal the previous regulations) on 13 October 2022, except for the new right for EU citizens residing in third countries to register .EU domain names, which will apply on 19 October 2019.