If you're a UK entity or resident and you are the holder of a .eu domain name, then the European Commission has news for you. In a recent Notice the European Commission announced that, subject to any transitional arrangement, .eu domain names will no longer be available for UK residents and entities post-Brexit. Should this be the case, over 300,000 .eu domain names will potentially be affected.
The legal framework for the .eu Top Level Domain sets out that only EU undertakings, EU organisations and EU residents are eligible to register .eu domain names1. The Registry – EURid – has been given the power to revoke any domain name that is held by a party who does not meet these eligibility criteria2.
In its Notice, the European Commission also advised that UK undertakings and residents would fall into the category of non-eligible parties after Brexit. The Commission warned stakeholders of the following effects:
The Commission's Notice has been met with severe criticism. It has been questioned whether revoking existing domains is in line with the human right to property, especially where revocation takes place without any (extra-)judicial proceedings. Many have also highlighted the internet's tradition of so-called "grandfathering rights", whereby existing domains are kept intact after a structural change. This was for instance the case for .su domains after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
This criticism may be a reason for the EU to reconsider its current strict stance. The EU and the UK are currently negotiating an agreement setting out the particulars of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. There is thus still a chance that the EU and the UK will agree on a different arrangement for .eu Top Level Domains.
However, the latest draft withdrawal agreement doesn't say anything about .eu domain names. If no arrangement is made in the end, then the effects set out in the Commission's Notice will become reality as of the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 30 March 2019.
Although it is not yet certain that all .eu domains in the hands of UK entities and residents will be revoked when Brexit takes place, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid the negative effects of a revocation:
One final tip: while some have advised switching your .eu domain to an EU-based proxy service, it must be noted that proxy services are currently not allowed under EURid's Domain Name Registration Policy.
1 Article 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 733/2002.
2 Article 20 of Regulation (EC) No 874/2004.