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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
EU to launch its own web domain
By Chris Morris
BBC News, Brussels

An illustration of the EU's new internet domain name
Final technical preparations for the domain launch are under way
The European Commission has said that the new internet domain name ".eu" will be up and running by the end of 2005.

The commission says the move will allow businesses and individuals to create an EU-wide identity on the internet.

It has taken six years for the idea of the ".eu" to become reality - a legal agreement was signed last month.

It will join generic addresses such as ".com" and ".org" as well as national ones like the British ".uk" or the German ".de".

The commission says the new domain name should be particularly useful for companies which operate across the European single market, giving them a pan-European identity on the internet.

Initially, for a period of four months, registration will be limited to public companies and trademark owners to avoid the risk of cybersquatters taking names which are not legally theirs.

The commission has warned that any offer of pre-registration should be treated with caution because fraud could well be involved.

As well as providing new internet space, officials in Brussels hope the new domain name will help promote the identity of the EU itself on the electronic media.

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