updated 3/23/2005 7:52:49 PM ET 2005-03-24T00:52:49

E-mail and Web addresses ending in ".eu" should appear on the Internet within the next year or so, giving Europeans a unified presence online.

The Internet's key oversight body still needs to complete a contract with EURid, a nonprofit group selected by the European Commission, the 25-nation bloc's executive body, to run ".eu."

But in a telephone conference call this week, the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers gave ICANN's staff the go-ahead to do so.

Within weeks, ".eu" is expected to be formally entered into the 13 computers that form the master directories for the Domain Name System, EURid said in a statement.

"Having ‘.eu' in the root sets the green light for the launch of ‘.eu,'" said Marc Van Wesemael, EURid's general manager.

It will be months, though, before companies, groups and individuals can begin to register ".eu" names.

EURid is still developing a policy for handling early registrations for trademark holders, and on Tuesday it selected PricewaterhouseCoopers to help validate trademark claims.

The four-month sunrise period is expected to begin in the fourth quarter, meaning regular registrations won't begin until early next year.

Supporters of the domain name believe ".eu" — for European Union — will help promote European identity and create greater visibility for pan-European e-commerce.

There are about 250 domain names on the Internet, but they are typically assigned by country or territory, as in ".fr" for France, or globally, as in ".com" for commercial sites.

Normally, ICANN assigns codes only to countries and territories on a list kept by the International Organization for Standards, a worldwide standardization body.

Although the European Union is not on that list, ICANN decided to allow codes on a separate reserved list kept by the standards group. The European Union is on that list.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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