Documents considered by the Committee on 17 January 2018 Contents

3The “.eu” internet Top-Level Domain (TLD)

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Document details

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council on the implementation, functioning and effectiveness of the .eu Top Level Domain

Legal base

Department

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Document Number

(39312), 15472/17, COM(17) 725

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1A European Commission report41 on the implementation, functioning and effectiveness of the .eu Top Level Domain (TLD) finds that the .eu TLD model has been implemented successfully and is performing effectively.

3.2Of greater political importance in the current climate are the implications of EU exit for .eu domain names that have been registered by UK residents. Currently, Article 4 of Regulation 733/2002 on the implementation of the .eu Top Level Domain states that only persons, companies or organisation based in the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) can register a .eu domain name.42

3.3The UK currently has the fourth largest number of .eu registrations in the EU (340,000), which means that a significant number of organisations and individuals potentially stand to be affected.

3.4In the Government’s Explanatory Memorandum43 the then Minister of State for Digital (Matt Hancock) acknowledges the restrictions on registrations, but states that “thus far, UK stakeholders have not been vocal in raising any issues or the possibility of UK based users of .eu losing its use on Brexit.”

3.5The Minister cites a statement44 by the .eu registrar which clarifies that, as the UK currently remains an EU Member State, no immediate action will be taken against .eu or .ею domain names that have been registered by residents in UK, but that the European Registry for Internet Domains (EURid) awaits instruction from the Commission regarding how to proceed, when the UK eventually leaves.

3.6The Minister states that the Government will continue to carry out stakeholder engagement to further understand the views of UK users of .eu, in order to inform the Government’s negotiating position.

3.7The Committee thanks the Minister for his Explanatory Memorandum. We note that the EU legal act45 governing the management of the .eu Top-Level Domain only permits persons, organisations and businesses based in the European Economic Area to register .eu domain names. By default, when the UK leaves the European Union, and any transition period ends, UK persons and organisations that have registered .eu domain names will no longer be legally eligible for these registrations. 340,000 UK users potentially stand to be affected by this development.

3.8We note the Government’s observation that UK stakeholders have not been vocal in raising concerns about the possibility of UK-based users of .eu losing its use on Brexit, as well as its assurance it will continue to carry out stakeholder engagement to further understand the views of UK users of .eu to inform its negotiating position.

3.9We ask the Government:

3.10We retain the document under scrutiny and ask the Government to provide the Committee with an update, and responses to our questions, by 28 February 2018.

Full details of the documents

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council on the implementation, functioning and effectiveness of the .eu Top Level Domain: (39312), 5472/17, COM(17) 725.

Background

3.11.eu is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the European Union (EU). Launched on 7 December 2005, following the adoption of Regulation 733/2002 in April 2002, the domain is available for any person, company or organization based in the European Economic Area (the EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

3.12Article 4 of the Regulation (Obligations of the Registry), states that:

“The Registry shall: […]

(b) register domain names in the .eu TLD through any accredited .eu Registrar requested by any:

(i) undertaking having its registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the Community, or

(ii) organisation established within the Community without prejudice to the application of national law, or

(iii) natural person resident within the Community.”46

The Report

3.13The document nominally under scrutiny in this report is a European Commission Report47 to the European Parliament and Council on the implementation, effectiveness and functioning of the “.eu” internet Top-Level Domain (TLD) from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2017. The Commission is required to submit a report on .eu every two years. This is the sixth progress report on the operation of .eu.

3.14The Report finds that over the last eleven years of operation, the .eu TLD model has been implemented successfully and is performing effectively. The report notes that:

3.15An administrative report of this kind would not normally warrant a substantive report to the House; however, the implications of withdrawal from the European Union for .eu domain names that have been registered by UK residents, companies and organisations mean that the document possesses sufficient political importance to merit further scrutiny.

Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister of 21 December 201748

3.16The then Minister of State at the Departure of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) (Matthew Hancock), states that:

3.17The Government also quotes, in full, a statement from the .eu registrar about the implications of UK exit for .eu domain names that have been registered by UK residents, which essentially states that the registrar is awaiting instruction from the European Commission about how to proceed:

“On 23 June 2016 voters in the UK referendum expressed their preference to leave the European Union. As the next steps have still not been determined and the political and legal processes have not yet been initiated, note that no action will be taken against .eu or .ею domain names that have been registered by residents in UK. EURid has been appointed by the European Commission to manage the technical infrastructure of .eu and its variants in other scripts. When further details are known about the timing and details of a UK exit, the European Commission will instruct EURid on how to proceed. We will continue to keep all our stakeholders fully informed.”49

Industry comment

3.18A number of other organisations have commented on this issue. Com Laude, a domain name management company, notes that a significant number of businesses and individual might be impacted. It concludes that “for many” this will be “a non-issue”, although individuals and smaller businesses are likely to face “a little more challenge” than multinationals:

“If you’re a large corporation you’ll likely have the ability to register domains in other eligible territories, through subsidiaries, etc.; or if you have your domains registered through a corporate domain name registrar they’ll have practices for ensuring your names are safe. Individuals and smaller businesses may face a little more challenge, though you can be sure there’ll be plenty of time to resolve any issues and there will be plenty of providers with solutions should this be necessary.”50

3.19On the other hand, Digital Trends concludes that:

“…only time will tell how problematic this will become for individuals and businesses who do not have another physical location that will remain within the EU after Brexit is complete. For those that do not, they will have to wait for the European Commission decision on the issue, if there is one at all.”51

Previous Committee Reports

None.


41 Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation, functioning and effectiveness of the .eu Top-Level Domain (15472/17).

42 Regulation 733/2002 on the implementation of the .eu Top Level Domain.

43 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, DCMS, to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee (21 December 2017).

44 EURid, Outcome of the UK referendum (accessed 10 January 2018).

45 Article 4 of Regulation 733/2002 on the implementation of the .eu Top Level Domain.

46 Regulation 733/2002 on the implementation of the .eu Top Level Domain.

47 Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation, functioning and effectiveness of the .eu Top-Level Domain (15472/17).

48 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, DCMS, to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee (21 December 2017).

49 EURid, Outcome of the UK referendum (accessed 10 January 2018).

50 Com Laude, Possible impacts of Brexit for .eu domain registrants (27 June 2016).

51 Digital Trends, Brexit could cause havoc with .eu registered domains (26 June 2016).




19 December 2018