Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirteenth Report


COM(00) 827

Draft Regulation on the implementation of the Internet Top Level Domain ".eu".
Legal base: Article 156 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 30 March 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 28-vi (2000-01), paragraph 7 (14 February 2001)
To be discussed in Council: 27 June 2001 Telecoms Council
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but request to be kept informed


  12.1  Following a positive response to its consultation on the creation of an Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) name, and agreement in principle from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Commission has brought forward this draft Regulation. The .eu TLD it proposes would be additional to, rather than a replacement for, existing country code level TLDs, such as .uk.

  12.2  When we considered the proposal on 14 February, we asked the Minister to write to us again in time for us to consider an amended text on which she expected a Common Position to be agreed at the 4 April Telecoms Council. It was also clear that negotiations were continuing, in particular on whether the Government's advocacy of a liberal Registry policy would be supported by the other Member States. Under that policy the new TLD would be available for use by enterprises and individuals based in the EEA, EFTA and the applicant states.

The Minister's letter

  12.3  In a letter received on 3 April, the Minister reported progress and told us that the Presidency would be seeking a "common orientation" at the April Council, with a view to reaching a Common Position at the June Telecoms Council.

The Legal Base

  12.4  The Minister says that Article 156 was chosen because the proposal could be regarded as dealing with achieving standards which assist the interoperability of networks. One Member State is querying it but alternatives discussed with the legal services of the Council and the Commission have been considered inappropriate.

Eligibility of registrants

  12.5  The Minister recalls that the UK has been advocating an open registration policy as being consistent with the global prominence of the single market and maximising the Lisbon aim of accelerating e-commerce. It could also encourage enlargement through online activity with the applicant states, combating the risk of a "digital divide." However, the Minister says there is a strong preference among Member States for securing protection of the EU "brand" from abuse, by requiring registrants to be legally linked with the EU in a way that allows enforcement of Community laws, thus providing some assurance that a registrant holding the .eu symbol would behave according to EU norms. She adds:

    "We have nevertheless generated a degree of interest in making clear how entities in the other EEA countries and the applicants could participate in .eu. The Presidency has proposed that this be dealt with by way of a Recital on the possibilities of extending the scope of .eu to those countries, and when to do so. There has been no discussion of the Recitals yet, but as things stand, I expect that there could be eventual agreement on this basis."

"Determination of registration policies and oversight by Member States"

  12.6  Originally, the Commission proposed that it should adopt public policy rules concerning the implementation of .eu in accordance with the advisory procedure. Other aspects of registration policy would have been decided by the Registry in consultation with the Commission and other interested parties. The Minister comments that:

    "there is now a broad consensus on the Commission determining the public policy principles on registration via a comitology regulatory procedure and on beginning registration operation only after defining a registration policy. Some Member States are requesting that some of the principles of the registration policy be included in the text of the Regulation, because essential elements and implementation criteria should be in the legal instrument, in accordance with the principles of the comitology decision. The Presidency is proposing to allow the Registry (after consultation with the Commission and the other interested parties) to determine the initial registration policy, and then to implement the public policy rules. In Council discussion, the UK will continue to seek a balance between Council oversight of key policies, and imposing unattractive or unworkable conditions on the Commission and operators of .eu registries."

"Use of geographic terms at the second level"

  12.7  One Member State wanted it made clear that entities of a regional or local character might be eligible to use .eu. Another Member State believed they should not be eligible.

The April Telecoms Council

  12.8  No significant progress was made at the April Telecoms Council, according to officials, and the Regulation is due to be considered again at the 27 June Council. The only issue which is now causing a delay is that one Member State is pressing for more clarity on the criteria for registration and the definition of the Registry. The same Member State maintains that Member States should have more power over sensitive policy aspects, such as the use of regional and territorial names at the second level, for instance by political organisations. The Presidency and Commission are understood to be holding bilateral discussions with the Member State concerned between now and June to explore possible amendments to the text.


  12.9  The Minister told us in January that an amended proposal was expected to be adopted at the Telecoms Council on 5-6 April. It is clear from her letter that the text is likely to be amended further before it is put to the June Council for a Common Position. Although we clear the document, we ask the Government to keep us informed of any significant changes to the text, if possible in time for us to consider the revised text before it is put to the Council for a Common Position.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 14 May 2001