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Status: Active
country: Members of the EU
Manager: European Commission, EURid
Registry Provider: EURid
Registrations: 3.7 million
Renewal Rate: 80%
Date Implemented: 1999
Type: GeoTLD

.eu is the country code top level domain name (ccTLD) of the European Union. It is managed and operated by EURid, a non-profit organization founded by three registry operators: namely DNS Belgium, Istituto di Informatica e Telematica and Stiftelsen för Internetinfrastruktur (IIS), under the authority of the European Commission.[1]

For years, the registration of .eu domain names has been restricted to persons, organizations, or businesses based in the EU. However, in December 2018, the European Parliament, Council and Commission approved an updated governance structure, which opened up registrations to non-resident EU citizens. The updated policies will take effect on 13 October 2022.[2]

.eu is considered the 9th largest top level domain name and the 5th most popular ccTLD worldwide.[3]


In 1999, .eu was approved as the two letter-alpha code for the European Union by the ISO-3166 Maintenance Agency.[4] Subsequently, in 2000, the European Council endorsed the creation of the .eu TLD during its meeting in Lisbon to improve the electronic commerce within the European Union. On April 22, 2002, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union enacted Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, which calls for the implementation of the .eu ccTLD to represent and promote the image of the European community in global information networks.[5]

On May 21, 2003, EURid was delegated by the European Commission as the registry operator of the .eu ccTLD in consultation with its member states.[6] On April 28, 2004, the European Union adopted the Policy Rules on how to implement the .eu ccTLD as a complementary domain name to the existing ccTLDs in Europe and other generic top-level domain names (gTLD) for the purpose of increasing competition and providing alternative choice to Internet users in the region and to improve the interoperability of networks within the European region.[7]

The ICANN Board represented by its President and CEO Paul Twomey entered a Registry Agreement with EURid through its Managing Director, Marc Van Wesemael, to complete the delegation process of the .eu ccTLD in 2005. [8]

Sunrise Period

EURid implemented a four-month Sunrise Period for the .eu ccTLD on a first-come, first-serve basis. It started on December 7, 2005, and lasted until April 2006. During the Sunrise Period, the registry received more than 245,000 registrations.[9]

Landrush Period

On April 7, 2006, EURid opened the .eu ccTLD for public registration, known as the Landrush Period. According to EUrid, there was a strong demand for .eu domain names.[10] By June of 2006 .eu registrations reached around 3 million.

Criticisms of Launch

Both the Sunrise and Landrush of the .eu extension have received criticism for poor legislative planning, implementation, and follow-through. Critics claim that the cybersquatting and other domaining abuses were abnormally rampant throughout the process and even noted that the abuses were systematized and industrialized unlike ever before. This, they claim, is why .eu never became a prominent TLD, and continued to be eclipsed for .com and left European nations preferring to use their ccTLDs over the regional extension.[11]

Bob Parsons, Founder and CEO of GoDaddy openly criticized the Landrush registration process implemented by EUrid and described it as a scam. According to him, some notorious companies found loopholes in the process and took advantage of the system. Parsons explained that some companies' modus operandi was, instead of registering as real active registrars, to create hundreds of new phantom registrars with similar addresses and contact information designed to hijack the .eu landrush giving the notorious companies greater opportunities to register domain names.[12] EURid Spokesman Patrick Linden denied Parson's allegations and explained that EURid validated the registrars that were accredited to sell .eu domain names.[13]

One month after EURid denied Parson's allegations of abuse on the .eu ccTLD Landrush process, the organization discovered that three companies from UK namely Ovidio Ltd, Fausto Ltd, and Gabino Ltd, used syndicated registrars as fronts to acquire and stockpile thousands of domain names. This activity, known as warehousing, is not allowed, and EURid sued the registrars for breach of contract and froze more than 74,000 domain names that were allegedly stockpiled by syndicated registrars.[14]

In September 2011, EURid notably won a cybersquatting case that had been ongoing since the Sunrise period. 9,000 domains were registered by a Chinese company; they passed the restrictions in place by using a UK address and phone number. This case was symptomatic of the ineffective preparations and implementation of EURid's cybersquatting precautions.[15]

IDN & DNSSEC Implementation

In December 2009, EURid implemented Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) to allow members of the European Union whose languages use non-ASCII characters in their alphabets; for instance the Swedish å, the German ü, the Romanian ș and other characters from the Bulgarian and Greek alphabets which use accents, cedillas, and ogoneks.[16]

In June 2010, during the 38th ICANN Meeting in Brussels EURid announced its deployment of DNSSEC to provide more security to its Internet users.[17]

Growth and Expansion

Based on Eurid's 2011 first quarter progress report, the organization implemented the Multiyear Registration program on April 7, 2011, allowing domain name registrants to register a domain name for a maximum of ten years. Currently, there are approximately 3.9 million registered .eu domain names. The growth rate of the .eu ccTLD registration compared to its 2010 figures is 4.2%. According to Eurid, Bulgaria (43%), Estonia (39%) and Romania (22%) displayed strong annual growth rates including a domain name renewal rate at 78%.[18] .eu is considered the 9th largest top-level domain name and the 5th most popular ccTLD worldwide.[19]

In 2012, .eu registrations grew in 22 of the 27 European states. The countries which saw growth of more than 5% were Bulgaria, Belgium and Slovenia.[20]