The European Commission, the executive branch of the 15-country European Union, has started promoting the idea of ".eu" as a top-level domain name.
The proposal is part of the eEurope initiative designed to accelerate the adoption of computers, Internet access and e-commerce within the European Union. It is said that Europe lags behind the United States in many areas and will suffer dire economic consequences unless it strives to catch up.
The commission claims that the .eu domain would strengthen the image and the infrastructure of the Internet in Europe, bolster the internal market and stimulate e-commerce in Europe.
On the surface it might seem like a good idea. I'm not sure whether it would achieve many of those goals.
Obviously the .eu extension could optionally replace national e-mail and Web extensions such as .uk. But, as with most things that originate out of Brussels, the proposal also has to meet other goals an agenda that seems to be based on federalism, bureaucracy and power.
The creation of a .eu suffix would certainly increase the power of the EU "brand" and thereby diminish the significance of national identities. It also appears to be linked to trying to gain power in the control and administration of the Internet.
For example, Erkki Liikanen, the European Commissioner responsible for information-technology matters, has said that he would hold discussions with board members of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). His declared goal is to allow swift technical action after the necessary decisions are taken at the European level. What decisions and why are they necessary?
They are necessary because Liikanen says they are. If that can be made to stick, it will set the precedent that ICANN is somehow subject to EU decision-making.
I don't see how it would do much to stimulate e-commerce.
There is no rhyme or reason why businesses with .eu extensions in their Web addresses are more likely to trade with each other or with private individuals similarly addressed than if they are identified by .uk or any other national equivalent.
The commission's working document on the .eu proposal raises several issues, including the nature of the future registry organization, how its registration policies should be implemented, and how it will resolve disputes.
If the commission means that a share in control of the Internet is a vital economic lever and the .eu proposal is part of a grab for Internet power, then why don't they say so?