In a meeting with its UK domain registrar community on June 4th, EURID (the operator of .EU domains) outlined the European Commission’s directive on how Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will affect UK Registrants of .EU domain names. It has ordered EURID to delete all domain names registered to UK owners as soon as March 30th, 2019 if a withdrawal agreement has not been reached with Britain by that date.
With roughly 380,000 .EU domain names registered by UK entities and EURID stating that the domains could be revoked without notice, both UK and European consumers could be faced with mass disruption to their online services. Several high profile British businesses, service providers and online retailers, use a .EU address for either their main website, email or as a linking address used to facilitate their online services. Those businesses will need time to plan their transition away from the .EU domain in order to ensure continuity for their customers.
The decision was met with general confusion amongst the UK registrars in attendance. In previous similar cases such as the dissolution of the .SU domain after the collapse of the Soviet Union, domain owners were given until the natural expiry of their websites to make alternative arrangements.
Whether the EU commission intends to follow through with its directive or whether it is now using the .EU domain as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations remains to be seen, but there is plenty of cause for concern amongst UK based .EU website owners.