EURid, the Registry responsible for running the .EU namespace, has recently released its Quarter 3, 2018 Progress Report, covering the .EU and .ЕЮ extensions and this revealed a drop in the overall number of registrations.

The report highlighted that there were 173,187 new domain name registrations made in Q3 2018, as well as noting that the average domain name renewal rate was at 74%; an 8% decrease since Quarter 3, 2018. EURid also noted that total domain name registrations had decreased from 3,790,450 at the end of Quarter 2 to 3,747,879 at the end of Quarter 3. However, EURid believes that this reduction is a result of their increased efforts to tackle domain name abuse. According to EURid, some 36,336 abusive domain names have been suspended, of which some 11,760 were suspended in June of Quarter 2, 2018.

Another important factor in the decrease in the number of domain name registrations and renewals is the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. More particularly, the European Commission’s (EC) Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology released a Notice to stakeholders on 28 March 2018 regarding the impact of Brexit on .EU domain names. The EC’s Notice highlighted that the EU regulatory framework for the .EU country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) will cease to apply to the UK as from the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, which is set for 30 March 2019, unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes a later date.

As a result, according to the Notice, UK individuals or entities that do not fulfil the eligibility requirements for registering .EU domain names as of the withdrawal date will no longer be able to register new, or renew existing, .EU domain names and may also have their existing .EU domain name registrations revoked by EURid.

Following a request from the European Commission, EURid have drafted a “high-level plan to implement the domain name revocation scenario(s)”. As part of this plan, EURid has highlighted to the Commission in its Brexit Notice a number of issues which will need to be addressed in order for EURid to enforce any such “revocation scenario(s)”. These issues included the following:

  • What is the earliest date on which the European Commission will be able to inform EURid of the chosen option?
  • What domain names are affected by the decision of the European Commission? For example, will there be any difference of approach where the registrant is from Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar or other British overseas territories?
  • What will happen to domain names reserved by the UK government as listed in the Annex of EC Regulation 874/2004?

Currently, the following entities are eligible to register .EU domain names: (i) undertakings having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EU, or (ii) organisations established within the EU without prejudice to the application of national law, or (iii) natural persons residing within the EU. In addition, EURid’s Domain Name Registration Policy extends eligibility requirements for .EU domain names to residents of, or entities established in, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

If the drop in .EU registration and renewals is genuinely being driven by Brexit, we can expect the effect of this to peak over the next year, assuming that the UK does eventually exit the EU on 29 March 2019. However, it will be interesting to watch the evolution of the .EU registration numbers in case of either scenario.

To visit the EURid website, please click here.

A copy of the Quarter 3, 2018 Progress Report can be found here.