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EU cancels .eu tender after Brexit cock-up

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2021, Domain Registries

The European Commission has been forced to cancel its search for a new .eu registry operator after apparently misunderstanding how Brexit works.

When the Commission put the .eu contract up for grabs last October, it said deal was only open to organizations based in the EU or the UK.

It seemed weird at the time, given that the UK had already officially left the EU and was just a few months away from terminating its year-long transition agreement, under which it still operated as if it were still a member.

And it turns out to have been a mistake, based on a misunderstanding of the legalities of the Brexit process. UK registries should never have been allowed to bid in the first place.

The Commission said today “the inclusion of the clause for applicants established in the United Kingdom in the Call was an error”.

It’s therefore scrapped the entire process and intends to relaunch it “in the near future”.

Only not-for-profit entities may apply.

.eu is currently managed by EURid, which is of course not barred from bidding to renew its longstanding contract.

Brit .eu owners get another three-month stay of execution

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2021, Domain Registries

EURid, the .eu registry, has given UK-based registrants another three months to reclaim their suspended .eu domains.

The transition period governing Brexit ended with 2020, and with it UK citizens’ right to own a .eu domain. The registry suspended 80,000 names as a result.

These domains were due to be deleted at the end of March and released for re-registration by eligible registrants next year.

But EURid has now extended that deadline to the end of June.

Anecdotally, the New Year purge caused a flood of customer support inquiries at registrars, as registrants who somehow missed EURid’s repeated warnings tried to figure out why their domains no longer resolved.

Registrants can keep a hold of their domains if they move them to a registrant with an EU address, or if they declare themselves an EU citizen living in the UK.

EURid reports 3% growth in final quarter before Brexit crunch

Kevin Murphy, February 3, 2021, Domain Registries

The .eu ccTLD grew by 108,682 domains in the fourth quarter of 2020, the last reporting period before the full impact of Brexit is felt.

The registry said this week that it ended December with 3,684,984 names under management, a number which also includes .ею and .ευ. That’s a 3% increase over the three months.

Portugal was the big driver, due to local registrar promotions. It was up 64.8% sequentially and 116% year-over-year. Portuguese registrants owned 105,895 names at the end of the year.

The Q4 numbers show 77,000 names registered to UK registrants and do not reflect the impact of the Brexit transition, which ended at the end of the year.

EURid said last month that it had suspended around 80,000 domains belonging to about 48,000 registrants, as the UK fell out of eligibility.

Some of those will likely be recovered during Q1, as UK-resident EU citizens are still eligible for .eu domains.

EURid suspends 80,000 domains as Brexit transition ends

Kevin Murphy, January 4, 2021, Domain Registries

EURid suspended about 80,00 domain names on Friday, as the UK’s 11 months of Brexit transition came to an end.

All the names were registered to UK-based, non-EU citizens and organizations, which are no longer eligible under registry policy.

“On 1 January 2021 we suspended around 80 000 domain names and send out just over 48 000 notifications to the registrants,” a registry spokesperson told DI today.

From Friday, the domains have not been resolvable, meaning email, web sites and other services using those names are no longer functional.

Affected registrants have a few months to get their records in order, if they wish to to keep them, by transferring them to a EU-based registrant or informing their registrar they’re an EU citizen living in the UK.

They’ll have until a minute before midnight CET March 31 to make the change. A minute later, the domains will move from “suspended” status to “withdrawn” status, at which point they will become unrecoverable.

Withdrawn domains will become available for registration again in 2022.

.eu had 130,114 UK-registered names at the end of September, suggesting about 50,000 domains were relocated at the eleventh hour, despite the eligibility policy being publicized for at least a couple of years.

Losing 80,000 names from its register would mean about a 2.2% decline in overall .eu regs compared to the end of the third quarter.

The UK officially left the EU at the end of January, but operated provisionally under the same trade rules during the transition period.

Brits get small reprieve in Brexit domain crackdown

Kevin Murphy, November 30, 2020, Domain Registries

The .eu registry has given UK-based registrants an extra window to keep hold of their domains, which will soon be deleted due to Brexit.

Brits were originally set to lose their .eu names at the end of the year, due to the expiry of the year-long Brexit transition deal.

But rather than immediately “withdrawing” these domains, EURid will now merely “suspend” them at midnight January 1.

Registrant will then have until midnight April 1 to bring their registration data back into compliance — by transferring them to an entity still based in the EU — to remove the suspension.

Suspended domains will not resolve.

All affected domains will be placed in “withdrawn” status April 1, and then will be deleted and returned to the available pool in batches from January 1, 2022.

Essentially, EURid has given procrastinating Brits a three-month final warning window to avoid losing their names, along with a de facto alert system for those who have not been paying attention.

.eu registry contract up for grabs

Kevin Murphy, October 8, 2020, Domain Registries

The European Commission has opened up the .eu registry contract for rebid.

It’s a five-year contract that will come into effect in October 2022. Registries have to apply before the end of the year, and the Commission expects to make its pick in October 2021.

The incumbent is of course EURid, which has been running the ccTLD for the last 15 years and surely has a strong chance of renewing.

There are a few restrictions of which companies can apply.

First, they must be based in the EU or the UK. The registry infrastructure must also be located in the EU.

Second, they must be a not-for-profit entity. For-profit companies would have to set up a separate non-profit registry vehicle in order to be able to apply. All surplus revenue goes into the EU budget.

Third, they need at least seven years of experience running a registry — .eu currently has over 3.6 million names under management, making it the 13th or 14th largest TLD that I have numbers for.

There are a variety of technical and financial criteria applicants will be measured against, and a scoring system for picking a winner.

All the application forms can be found over here.

EURid suspends and delays thousands of coronavirus domains

Kevin Murphy, October 8, 2020, Domain Registries

Thousands of .eu domains containing words related to the coronavirus pandemic have either been suspended or frozen due to suspicions the registrants may have been up to no good, EURid reported this week.

The company started scanning new and recent registrations for these keywords at the start of April.

It found 3,489 such domains registered in the first quarter, and it suspended 1,709 of them because the registrant failed to verify their identity and confirm that the registration was made in good faith.

From April to the end of September, 4,656 domains triggered the system and were delayed from going live until EURid carried out its checks. Only a quarter of these names have so far passed the checks, EURid said.

While there are many legit sites providing pandemic-related information, the high-profile disease has also attracted many fraudsters.

No lockdown bump for .eu as domain base shrinks in Q2

Kevin Murphy, August 20, 2020, Domain Registries

The European Union ccTLD .eu did not see an overall benefit from the pandemic lockdowns that affected many of its member states in the second quarter.

Registry operator EURid this week said that its total domains under management for .eu was 3,606,143 at the end of June, down by 16,907 from 3,623,050 at the end of March.

The company blamed Brexit for the decline, as Brits will no longer be eligible for .eu domains after the political transition period expires at the end of the year and many are therefore being allowed to expire.

This has been EURid’s story for many quarters, with the exception of a discount-related Portuguese aberration in Q1.

The number of regs from the UK dropped by 16.6% year-over-year and 5.1% quarter-over-quarter, to wind up at 135,355.

But .eu did not see the lockdown bump experienced by many other registries and registrars during the quarter either.

New regs in Q2 were at 163,277, compared to 190,011 in Q1 and 164,906 in Q2 2019. It sold fewer domains, even as its peers reported significant increases in sales.

I expect this is fairly easily explained.

Anecdotally, much of the pandemic-related boost the industry has experienced has been due to bricks-and-mortar microbusinesses such as mom-n-pop retailers, bars and restaurants selling online for the first time and needing domain names to make the switch.

These types of registrants, serving a small local area, don’t need a TLD reflecting their membership of a vast trading union, and are probably better served by their national ccTLD or a descriptive generic, so .eu got overlooked.

When it comes to the lockdown bump, it appears .eu was the exception to the rule.

Despite Brexit, .eu actually returned to growth in Q1

Brexit may have been pounding EURid’s domain base for the last few years, but .eu domains recovered a little in the first quarter due to promotional activity in Portugal.

The UK left the European Union on January 31, and Brits will lose their right to register and hold .eu domains when the so-called transition period ends at the end of the year.

Naturally enough, UK-based registrations of .eu domains continued to decline in Q1, down 24% year over year and 5% on the quarter to end March at 142,600 domains. It’s still the ninth-biggest eligible nation in terms of regs.

But a remarkable 64% spike in regs from Portugal, which EURid attributes to registrar-led promotions, seems to have helped .eu return to a growth state.

There were 80,000 .eu regs from Portugal at the end of the quarter, up by about 30,000 from the end of 2019, more than enough to counteract the 8,000-domain loss from the UK.

Overall, .eu grew from 3,579,689 domains to 3,623,050 domains during the quarter, an increase of about 43,000 or 0.5%.

The number of domains being claimed by EU citizens living outside the EU — possible under a newish policy — more than doubled to 759 domains.

Brexit hell: .eu suspension plan put on hold

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2019, Domain Registries

EURid’s policy to boot out Brits next week has been put on hold due to the current impasse in Brexit talks.

UK citizens had been told they would lose their .eu domains November 1, the first day the country was scheduled to no longer be a member of the European Union.

But the October 31 exit date appears increasingly unlikely, with the divorce plan agreed to by the EU and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson still in UK parliamentary limbo.

So EURid posted today:

Following the recent developments in the UK withdrawal scenario, the entire plan outlined below is on hold. We will keep you informed as soon as we receive further instructions from the European Commission.

Under the suspended plan, EURid would have emailed all of its UK and Gibraltar-based registrants tomorrow to inform them that their domains were in jeopardy.

It would have closed down new registrations to Brits on November 1 and given existing registrants a two-month grace period to come into compliance — by transferring their names to addresses in eligible nations — before suspending the names.

A year later, the names would be deleted and returned to the available pool.

EURid said it will provide further guidance when it gets word from the European Commission.