A new .eu Internet address is being launched on Dec. 7, aimed at providing web sites a pan-European identity. Authorities expect a rush from EU companies and organizations during the first phase of registration.
.eu is coming to a computer near you
According to Viviane Reding, the EU's information society and media commissioner, the new .eu top-level domain name will become as important for European business as .com.
"This should foster electronic commerce and boost economic competitiveness and growth," she said.
The European Commission said the .eu address should make it easier for companies to have a presence across the bloc's internal market without having separate domains for each country. However, the new domain name will operate beside national addresses such as .de for Germany or .pt for Portugal.
The Dec. 7 start date for registration is the first phase of the process, the so-called "sunrise period." For two months, only registered trademarks, public bodies, company names and some other rights holders may apply.
The period is aimed at preventing "cyber squatters" from snatching up company names and selling them later to companies at inflated prices.
Starting on Feb. 2, companies with unregistered trademarks can apply.
A third phase, the "land rush" period, is set to begin on April 7, when the .eu domain will be opened up to individuals on a first come, first served basis.
The EU itself will also start using the .eu address
The .eu name will be run by EURid, which is a private European non-profit organization, which has some 750 licensed domain name registrars all over the world. EURid has been recognized by the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body which manages the global system of domain names, as the body administering the .eu address.
All EU institutions will begin using the .eu domain in their web address from April 2006.