One of the weirder casualties of our exit from the European Union turns out to be the .EU top-level domain (TLD).
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport put out some guidance around Christmas saying that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, you’ll probably need to get rid of your .eu domain because you won’t fit the eligibility criteria anymore.
It turns out the EU is being really strict about who can and can’t have a .EU domain. Even though nicking other countries’ top-level domains to make cool-sounding URLs is well-established, sometimes said countries take exception, or there are political tensions – like when it was pointed out that the cutesy .ly URL shorteners the US government was using could be taken as support for Libya, which owns the .ly domain.
In a move that seems kind of petty, the EU put out a document in March 2018, saying UK citizens won’t be allowed their domains anymore. Said document basically says that unless someone in the government thinks to include .eu domains in the Brexit agreement (and we actually manage to get one passed), anyone in the UK using that TLD will have to stop unless they can fulfil the requirements another way (having an entity in a member country, for instance).
The document says:
As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organisations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names or, if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.
Also, if you already have a .eu domain, the “the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such domain name on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts.” In other words, they’ll take it off you and there’s sod all you can do about it.
The government’s advice isn’t much help:
“If you currently hold a .eu registration and the related purchase agreement expires before 29 March 2019, the date of the UK’s exit from the EU, it is suggested that you discuss whether you should consider transferring your registration to another top level domain with your local domain name registrar.
If your current .eu registration is due to expire after 29 March 2019, you may wish to discuss transferring your registration to another top level domain. Examples of other top level domains include .com, .co.uk, .net or .org.
The Commission’s notice states that where a holder of a domain name no longer fulfils the general eligibility criteria, the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such a domain name on its own initiative. This means you may not be able to access your .eu website or email.
You may wish to seek advice from your local domain name registrar on whether the terms of your contractual agreement provide for any recourse in the event of revocation of a .eu registration. You may also want to seek legal advice.”
We can’t imagine lawyers would have any bright ideas for reversing the decision.
In short, if you’re using .eu and you’re based in the UK, it would be wise to start transferring things, because no-deal is looking increasingly likely, and even if we do get a deal, we sincerely doubt anyone at the government is going to have the digital smarts or the foresight to include .eu domains in it. They’ve kind of got bigger fish to fry, like how anything is going to work, or how to stave off an economic apocalypse.
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