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EU notified of pro-Brexit group registering in Ireland to keep '.eu' domain

There are a strict set of criteria for a website to hold an ‘.eu’ domain.

AN EU ORGANISATION in charge of managing websites with a ‘.eu’ domain has been notified of the pro-Brexit website Leave.EU partly registering in Ireland in order to keep its domain name.

Thousands of UK websites with the ‘eu’ domain were suspended after the transition period ended at 11pm on 31 December. 

But The Guardian reported that the company has partly registered in Co Waterford in order to retain the ‘.eu’ domain, though its site says it is still registered in Bristol.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the organisation EURid said: 

In the case of Leave.EU, the registrant updated their contact details to an eligible party. 

It said that it is constantly checking the eligibility criteria for ‘.eu’ domains are met, and the same is the case for Leave.EU.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond has written to Ireland’s communications watchdog ComReg on the issue, and referred it to EURid. It’s understood that the matter is under the EU’s jurisdiction.

Richmond said that a .eu domain “allows the organisation to retain their high-ranking profile on search engines, social media sites and existing references”.

An ‘.eu’ domain name can be requested by: an EU citizen; a natural person who is not an EU citizen and who is a resident of a Member State; an undertaking that is established in the EU; or an organisation that is established in the EU.

The Fine Gael spokesperson on European Affairs has submitted a Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan querying the legitimacy of the relocation.

He has also written to the Data Protection Commissioner in relation to GDPR issues the relocation may pose. 

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“Leave.EU is an absolutely horrendous organisation,” Richmond told TheJournal.ie.

Leave.EU is an odious campaign group that’s spread fear and disinformation throughout the Brexit referendum and subsequent negotiation process.

“It’s anti-Irish, anti-EU and is prone to incitement to hatred,” he said, adding that the riots on Capitol Hill are a reminder of how dangerous that can be.

“We cannot allow Ireland to be a brass plate of convenience for this grouping and this requires rigorous scrutiny.” 

The eligibility criteria to have a .eu domain name are not set by EURid, the registry manager, but by the European Commission. A new European Commission regulation entering into force in October 2022.
Leave.EU has been contacted for comment.

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