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Parliamentary questions
1 February 2007
Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

The Commission would like to point out that it is not responsible for the daily operations of the Registry (EURid) and does not have contractual relations with registrars. EURid has established contractual links with registrars and can therefore take measures against those registrars that violate the contract or enter into dubious practices.

As regards the Honourable Member's request for data on the domain names applied for and assigned through the registrars mentioned, the Commission would like to point out that it does not have access to these data.

The Registry, EURid, is the entity responsible for the organisation, administration and management of the .eu top level domain (TLD). One of the tasks of the Registry is to maintain the corresponding databases and the associated public query services. Nevertheless, the Registry is subject to Community law on data protection and privacy as indicated in Council Regulation (EC) No 733/2002(1) and cannot disclose the abovementioned data to third parties.

The Commission has submitted the Honourable Member's allegations to the Registry for any appropriate action.

The registration of domain names under the .eu TLD is governed by two regulations: Council Regulation (EC) No 733/2002 of 22 April 2002 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 of 28 April 2004(2). These regulations have been implemented by the Registry in the Registration Rules and Terms and Conditions.

In accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, the first phase for the registration of domain names (‘Sunrise Period’) was only open to undertakings, organisations or natural persons meeting the eligibility criteria and who can claim a prior right. This procedure is based on the principle of ‘presumption of validity’, according to which any application for the registration of a domain name shall be considered valid insofar as it is based on a right which is validly recognised or established by national and/or Community law.

Neither the Registry nor the Commission have any competency to question the validity of prior rights. However, pursuant to Article 14 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 (the ‘Public policy rules’) all applications filed during the ‘Sunrise Period’ are examined by a validation agent (a government validation point if the applicant is a public body; a team of specialists in intellectual property in other cases) who assesses the evidence and verifies whether or not a prior right to the claimed name does exist. Domain names cannot be registered in the absence of a valid prior right.

With regard to the differences in national trade mark registration procedures, it has to be noted that the First Directive 89/104/EEC of the Council, of 21 December 1988, to Approximate the Laws of the Member States Relating to Trade Marks(3) gives freedom to Member States ‘to fix the provisions of procedure concerning the registration, the revocation and the invalidity of trade marks acquired by registration’ (see fifth recital of the directive). Therefore, while national trade mark law is harmonised in all Member States, procedures for registering trade marks may diverge from one Member State to another.

The legal framework established for the .eu TLD does not derogate from or circumvent the Trade Mark Directive. Therefore, the validation agent has to accept as valid any application based on a valid trademark granted in a Member State.

The regulations provide for a non-discriminatory framework, allowing for equal opportunities for all registrants and registrars, regardless of their country of origin.

As stated in Council Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, Article 4(e), the Registry shall adopt procedures for, and carry out, accreditation of .eu Registrars and ensure effective and fair conditions of competition among .eu Registrars. Taking into account the fact that citizens and companies can choose between some 1 500 registrars, it can be assumed that there is a sufficient degree of competition and no registrar can achieve a dominant market position.

Concerning the registration of applicants based in the Netherlands, it can be stated that registration patterns for the .eu TLD are similar to the patterns of the European country code (cc) TLDs: more applications are submitted from countries with large cc TLDs compared with countries with smaller cc TLDs. It is not surprising that most applications were filed by subjects based in Germany, followed by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, since the major European national cc TLDs are .de, .uk and .nl. The success rate for Dutch applications (40 %) is in line with the overall success rate for .eu applications (44 %). Moreover, with more than 2.3 million domain names registered with .eu, the launch of this TLD can be regarded as a success. As the third largest European TLD, .eu is now a well established TLD.

(1)Regulation (EC) No 733/2002 of Parliament and of the Council of 22 April 2002 on the implementation of the eu. top level domain, OJ L 113, 30.4.2002.
(2)Commission Regulation (EC) No 874/2004 of 28 April 2004 laying down public policy rules concerning the implementation and functions of the .eu Top Level Domain and the principles governing registration, OJ L 162, 30.4.2004.
(3)OJ L 40, 11.2.1989.

OJ C 45, 16/02/2008
Last updated: 2 May 2007Legal notice