Brussels awards .eu domain to Brussels-based consortium

EURid wins contest - European domain live hopefully this year

The European Commission has awarded management of the new .eu top-level Internet domain to Brussels-based consortium EURid, bringing the seemingly endless quest for a dedicated European domain one step closer to reality.

A draft of the decision has been leaked to ICANN observer Bret Fausett - who has posted it on his ICANN blog - and sees EURid "ranking first on the priority list", followed by EUDR, with EUREG getting the bronze medal.

It may seem peculiar that out of all the bidders for the domain administration, Brussels-based EURid should win. It is, after all, run by the director of the Belgian country-code domain, Marc Van Wesemael, and has Karel Uyttendaele - the IT manager for the federation of Belgian ICT Industries - heading the Board.

However, Mr Van Wesemael told us this morning that he has received no official confirmation of the decision, so the draft decision may just be Brussels bureaucrats practising their typing skills.

If EURid does win the contract however, it will at least mean that .eu domains edge closer to becoming available. The process has been interminably slow, with the EC finally putting it out for bidding on 3 September 2002. Even Brussels officials had expected it to be available before this time when they were asked in mid-2001.

The bidding ended on 25 October 2002 and an official decision was finally expected at the end of this month. Mr Van Mesemael tells us however that it will still be "a minimum of six months" before the domain goes live. First however, the policy has to be decided - it is "still very open" says Mr Van Mesemael - and then agreement has to be reached with ICANN - something that could be very short or could be very long depending on what mood the US-based organisation is in.

However, the plan outlined by EURid in September last year still holds, we are told. There will be a sunrise period for trademark owners etc to grab domains and so hopefully avert cybersquatting problems. The domains will be sold for 10 Euros a head, with the intention that this will fall to 5 Euros after a year.

It's not known what model precisely EURid will follow, but it plans to start with a staff of 37, so presumably it will sell through registrars as is the norm. Will .eu be open to just Europeans or the rest of the world? Will it adopt the flawed ICANN UDRP domain resolution policy or cater to its own needs? Will the contract be with the registrant and EURid, or the registrant and register, or the register and EURid? All these are questions are to be answered in the next mind-bogglingly slow consultation period.

However, EURid will have a Board and a Policy Council made up of a wide range of interested parties from across Europe - a model run successfully by Nominet in the UK.

EURid is made up of a consortium between the Belgian, Swiss and Italian domain administrators. reg;

Related links
Draft EC decision (pdf)
Brett Fausett ICANN blog

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EU seeks bidders for European domain
New .eu domain edges closer to reality

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