E.U. seeks common identity - on the worldwide web
By Daniela Schroeder Nov 30, 2005, 17:01 GMT
Brussels - Could the Internet provide a solution to the European Union's quest for identity and unity - even if it's just a virtual one?
In early December, the 25-nation bloc is to get its own '.eu' internet domain name, comparable to '.com' or '.org'.
Formal announcement of the launch of a joint European internet space will come Thursday.
The E.U. move comes just a few weeks after the Union and most other governments lost their tug-of-war with the United States on control over internet addresses.
The E.U.'s new worldwide web address will not replace the existing national domains, but complement them.
'It will give a new Internet space to European companies and citizens, providing the European community with a common identity on the worldwide web,' says EURid, a Brussels-based non-profit body, appointed by the European Commission to process applications for a '.eu' domain.
Any one wanting to set up a '.eu' website, must contact a local registrar and hand in documents proving registration or residence in the E.U.
The Commission has asked each country to compile a list of names it does not want to be registered. Germany, for instance, is keen on preventing any domain names which could allude to Nazi ideology.
To allow organisations and companies to protect their domain name against registration by cyber squatters, EURid has set up a step-by-step registration period called 'Sunrise'.
Starting on December 7, public bodies and holders of registered trademarks can apply for a domain, consisting of their own name with '.eu' added on.
Companies producing goods with the same brand name - such as 'Lotus' for instance - will have to hurry, says Benjamin Gevers, a Brussels-based trademark and design attorney.
It will be a question of first-come, first-served.
Whether it is a software company or a firm producing cars or body lotion, the website 'www.lotus.eu' will simply be granted to the holder of the trademark whose application file comes in first.
'With an .eu-name a company looks bigger, more serious, it gets an European character,' Gevers says.
'Customers will know that it is a company following E.U. law, whereas a .com name can be held by anybody, there is no security for commerce,' he adds.
Last month, the E.U. failed in efforts to set up an international multi-stakeholder forum to replace the U.S. Commerce Department in overseeing the not-for-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates the worldwide web acting on behalf of the entire world.
A new top level domain such as .eu has to be approved by ICANN. It also translates the names of websites into unique blocs of numbers which computers and networks use to find another.© dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur