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EU Domain Names Brexit Brouhaha

April 9, 2018

Late last month, the European Commission dropped a bombshell on UK .eu registrants in relation to Brexit - it strongly suggested many could lose their names.

The EC stated companies and organisations established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and UK residents will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names in a post-Brexit world. Nor will they be able to renew .eu domain names registered before the date that the UK officially withdraws from the EU.

The reasoning is that the eligibility criteria for .eu names includes the stipulation that registration is limited to individuals or companies from countries in the European Union. Post-Brexit, many UK based .eu holders will be neither.

The full notice to stakeholders from the European Commission can be viewed here.

It's been stated in various reports that approximately 300,000 .eu names may be impacted. While not all of those may be in active use, no doubt there will be many UK .eu holders that could be significantly affected by having to give up their names.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Disagrees

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says this doesn't have to be the case. The .eu registry could make a decision to change the eligibility criteria and open up registrations to other countries - even if it's just the UK.

EFF points to Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, a document published in 2002 concerning the implementation of the .eu Top Level Domain, which states:

"It is therefore to be expected that this Regulation will be extended to the European Economic Area and that amendments may be sought to the existing arrangements between the European Union and European third countries, with a view to accommodating the requirements of TLD so that entities in those countries may participate in it."

EFF also states maintaining legacy UK-held .eu domains is consistent not only with EU regulations, but also with previous practice of other registries.

A case in point close to home is It was Australia's original top-level domain for use by a particular messaging system - while you can't register a new name, a number that were grandfathered are still functioning today.

The issue concerning Brexit and .eu also acts as an important reminder for Australians who are considering registering anything other than a .au domain name - be sure that whatever TLD you're considering won't fall victim to the whims of political instability and catch you out as well.

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