Nearly 50,000 UK .eu websites taken down in final stages of Brexit

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More than 48,000 British-owned European internet domain names – including one belonging to the Leave campaign – were taken offline indefinitely on Monday as a result of Brexit.

EURid, the agency in charge of .eu domains, has revoked the British right to the domain name citing Brexit as a reason.

The process of deleting domains began after the official UK withdrawal from the European Union in early 2020. Monday’s withdrawal was the final step in the process.

Why does this happen?

To be eligible for a .eu domain, a person must be an EU citizen, a resident of a Member State or an organization established in the Union.

UK holders were first told they would lose their domain in October 2020.

They had time to comply with the rules. All sites that were still not compliant in January 2021 were suspended before finally being revoked this week.

The curious case of Leave.eu

One of the most prominent domains affected by the move was Leave.eu, the website of a political campaign group set up to support the UK’s exit from the EU.

Ironically, in an effort to save their domain name which would affect their brand and Google search rankings, the group moved their website registration address to the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, in January 2021.

It was against by Irish politicians through whom EURid continued the suspension process when they said the group had failed to respond to requests for data verification.

What are the consequences of moving?

“You can really tell the lack of consistent thinking from the UK,” Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Center for International Political Economy, told Euronews Next.

“But also on the side of people who are pointing it out almost with schadenfreude against the UK and on the side of people who are advocating for Remain because actually requiring local presence or citizenship when it comes to domain names is something that we sometimes consider to be a barrier to trade”.

However, Lee-Makiyama doesn’t think the business consequences are very serious because the .eu domain is often a secondary domain for businesses.

For him, it is the principle of the decision which is the most interesting because he thinks that it is in the interest neither of the United Kingdom nor of the EU.

EURid on Monday released the 48,000 revoked domain names “for general registration on a ‘first come, first served’ basis” by EU citizens or residents.

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