Ecommerce community

Establishment requirements for the registration of top-level domain names

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, (M) Europaparlamentariker, European Parliament - 8 Apr-14
I recently submitted an interpellation to the Commission to raise debate and awareness around the issue of registration requirements in some member countries to gain access to the domain name.
Additional requirements to register a physical address creates unnecessary costs for small online businesses and obstacles on the common digital market.

By opening up for more competition on our digital single market, we can boost growth and jobs in Europe. A lot has already been achieved to remove obstacles to cross-border e-commerce, but more still needs to be done. One example of remaining obstacle is the requirement in some Member States to register an online company with a physical office, in order to have access to a top-level domain name.

Given that search engines usually rank local content higher than foreign content, it is in the interest of an online company to register its website under a local top-level domain name (f.ex. “.se” in order to export to Sweden). However, some Member States – i.a. Germany, Finland, Denmark and Estonia – impose extra requirements of physical establishment to acquire such a domain. Not only is this very costly for an online company that wants to operate efficiently in the EU, but it also distorts competition that should be free and fair throughout our common market. Figures provided by e-commerce SMEs, who were forced to establish themselves in other Member States, indicate that administrative costs associated with these requirements can easily exceed 9.000 EUR per year and per country.

Member States, who impose such rules, justify them by the need to follow national legislation and to prevent so-called “domain grabbing”. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) even suggests that conflicts relating to top-level domain names can be resolved by giving priority to local stakeholders. However, these non-binding recommendations are often misused to put up a preventive barrier, before any conflict has actually occurred.

In this context, could the Commission clarify if such national establishment requirements are compatible with EU-rules on free movement? Does the Commission consider that they are discriminatory? Is it really justified and proportionate that an online company from one Member State should bear additional costs in order to operate on a level-playing field throughout our digital single market? What does the Commission intend to do to address this discrimination of non-national e-commerce companies?

Anna Maria Corazza Bildt

(M) Europaparlamentariker, European Parliament

Jag är en småföretagare som startat och drivit eget företag för internetförsäljning av italienska delikatesser.

Sedan jag 2009 valdes in som ledamot för Moderaterna i Europaparlamentet är jag djupt engagerad för att skapa ett bra företagarklimat i Europa med förenklade regler som underlättar både för entreprenörer och för konsumenter.

Den digitala inre marknaden är en särskilt viktig nyckel för att skapa mer konkurrenskraft, tillväxt och jobb i Europa.

Därför driver jag i inre marknadsutskottet på för att vi ska riva ner administrativa hinder, öppna upp den inre marknaden, öka förtroendet för att handla på nätet över gränser och garantera samma fria rörlighet för varor både fysiskt och digitalt.

I am an entrepreneur, who started and ran my own small company for online commerce of Italian traditional food products.

Since I was elected Member of the European Parliament in 2009 for the Moderate Party in Sweden, I have been deeply committed to promoting a favourable and dynamic business environment in Europe through simple, flexible and common rules that facilitate for business and consumers alike.

Today the digital single market is key to creating more competitiveness, growth and jobs in Europe.

That is why, as a member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, I am fighting to remove barriers, borders and burdens, to open up the internal market, to increase trust in cross-border e-commerce and to guarantee the same freedom of movement for goods and services both offline and online.

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