Commission to revoke British .eu domains after Brexit

Brexit protesters demonstrate by the Houses of parliament in London on 17 January 2019. [EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL]

The European Commission plans to revoke all .eu domain name registrations belonging to British registrants after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, EURACTIV has learnt.

The revocation of .eu domains belonging to British individuals and companies will happen regardless of whether the UK leaves the bloc with or without a deal, and may force thousands of websites to start from scratch. In addition, individuals and organisations based in the UK will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names.

The implications of the impending revocation will be far-reaching.

Any affected domains will disappear from the web within 48 hours of the revocation. Secondly, email transmissions could be disrupted, as domain name systems are used to route messages. There could also be issues related to the operation of web-based security certificates, which are connected to domain names.

Speaking to an industry insider on condition of anonymity on Friday (18 January), EURACTIV learnt that around 250,000 .eu domains currently associated with British registrants are set to be annulled.

Start “from scratch”

In the case of a withdrawal agreement being formally agreed between the UK and the EU, the revocations will take place as of 1 January 2021.

“The changes will have a huge impact,” EURACTIV was informed. “This will affect the economic activity of .eu British companies because, in terms of search engines, these websites have spent a long time rising up the rankings with their current domain names.”

“These companies will have to start completely from scratch.”

In March 2018, the Commission informed stakeholders that revocation of EU domains for British registrants was a potentiality.

Transitional arrangements

“Subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, the EU regulatory framework for the .eu Top Level Domain will no longer
apply to the United Kingdom as from the withdrawal date,” the communication read.

Transitional arrangements are currently being discussed and are due to be finalised next week. Following the Commission’s March announcement, the number of British-registered .eu domains fell sharply, by around 100,000.

Industry has so far been left in the dark about the potential ramifications of revoking the remaining the 250,000 domains, but their greatest hope is that the European Commission proposes a transitional agreement that would allow companies and individuals to manage their migration from .eu domains more efficiently.

EURACTIV has contacted the DG responsible for managing the revocation. No response has been received by the time this article was published.

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