Who proposed ".eu" and what ICANN did about the launch of the new TLD

A few days ago I wrote about the new top level domain (TLD), “.eu”, and mentioned my belief that it’s a good sign for the Internet, and for the market of domain names.

I also responded to some critics that the process of creating the new TLD was delayed by ICANN.

Here is the continuation of the story – from the person who originally proposed the foundation of “.eu” in… 1996.

I wrote in my blog “I need to make a clarification, though – some of the news reports about the “.eu” say that the delay for the launch of the new top-level domain was becaus of ICANN’s process. That’s not correct. The actual delay was caused at the European Commission level. I will ask for more information from the EC, and will publish it here, as soon as I get it.”

To which my old friend and colleague, Patrick Vande Walle, chiarman of the Internet Society in Luxembourg, has responded in an e-mail:

Veni, this is the original message I posted as a probe on 11 Dec 1996 on the gtld-mou list.

I was surprised to receive numerous messages supporting the idea. One of which was from Christopher Wilkinson, at the time Internet governance chief at the European Commission.

Chris was the one actually formalizing the idea and submitting it to Commissioner Liikanen. This was right after the GSM boom, which was a big European success.

I think the commissioner was looking for a new project to federate energies in Europe. An European-wide TLD seemed like a good opportunity in those dot-com boom times.

The whole process took 9 years (3283 days exactly) before becoming a reality.

What makes .EU unique is that it is the very first TLD that was created by a purely political process. If this is good or bad, I leave it up to others to judge.

Further, Patrick said in a second e-mail:

I can confirm that ICANN was not the main source of delay. If you look at the official Commission FAQ, it mentions the regulation adopted in on 22 April 2002 and 28 April 2004. The regulations needed to go through the Commission, Council and two readings in the Parliament. From a purely political/administrative point of view, the length of the procedure is not unusual, in the sense that it was not an urgent matter, like bird flu for example. Now, if you think in terms of “time to market”, that’s a different story.

It is interesting to read this, I think. More can be found at Patrick’s blog.

There will be more publications on the “.eu”, and I guess more voices towards ICANN to create new TLDs – and I hope ICANN will continue with establishment of new gTLD (see resolution named “Notice of Intent to Advance Implementation of New gTLD Process”.

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