European Commission rules that UK dwelling EU citizens can still hold .eu domains after Brexit

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What Brexit really means for the UK -- whenever it may end up happening -- still remains to be seen. But a new ruling by the European Commission means that even after leaving Europe, UK citizens will still be able to hold .eu top-level domains after leaving the European Union.

The ruling is a reversal of a decision taken earlier in the year that EU citizens living in the UK post-Brexit would not be able to own such domains. It comes as the Commission becomes increasingly concerned about the "uncertainties surrounding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement", and what the implications of this could be.

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With the new decision, it will not matter where an EU citizen lives after Brexit. The only requirement to owning a .eu domain is being an EU citizen; it is possible to living in the EU, in the UK, or anywhere else.

In an explanatory document, the European Commission says:

The United Kingdom submitted on 29 March 2017 the notification of its intention to withdraw from the Union pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Following a request by the United Kingdom, the European Council (Article 50) agreed on 11 April 2019 to extend further the period provided for in Article 50(3) TEU until 31 October 2019. This means that the United Kingdom will be, as of 1 November 2019 ('the withdrawal date') a 'third country'.

Preparing for the withdrawal is not just a matter for EU and national administrations but also for private parties.

In view of the uncertainties surrounding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, the .eu Top Level Domain Registry, accredited .eu Registrars, .eu domain names registrants, applicants for .eu domains names and generally stakeholders are reminded of legal repercussions, which need to be considered when the United Kingdom becomes a third country.

Subject to the transition period provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, as of the withdrawal date the EU regulatory framework for the .eu Top Level Domain, and in particular Regulation (EC) No 733/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 April 2002 on the implementation of the .eu Top Level Domain, will no longer apply to the United Kingdom.

It goes on to explain who is able to own a .eu TLD:

(i) a Union citizen, independently of their place of residence;

(ii) a natural person who is not a Union citizen and who is a resident of a Member State;

(iii) an undertaking that is established in the Union; or

(iv) an organisation that is established in the Union, without prejudice to the application of national law.

Previously, the European Commission was going to force EU citizens living in the UK to give up their .eu domains within two months of Brexit, but this plan has now been scrapped. As the overseer for .eu domains, EURid, succinctly explains:

On 18 July 2019, the European Commission has published an updated notice to stakeholders about the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules on .eu domain names.

The notice highlights that at the time of the UK withdrawal, EU citizens residents in UK may still keep their .eu domain name(s) thanks to the changes of the .eu eligibility criteria that as of 19 October 2019 will see the citizenship criteria added to the residency criteria.

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