At a meeting of its managing committee, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), authorized its president, , to sign the agreement with Eurid, the consortium chosen by the European Commission as official caretaker of the new domain name.
The negotiations between ICANN and Eurid lasted nearly six months, starting in October 2004, when the European consortium announced that it hoped to "quickly arrive at an agreement." No explanation has been given for the long delay.
Marc Van Wesemael of Eurid said the remaining technical maneuvering will take about two weeks to complete.
Eurid is finalizing its registration policy for .eu addresses, which the EC will need to approve.
Domain names will be open to the public at large on a first-come, first-served basis, though the second stage isn't expected to begin until early 2006, well behind the planned date of the end of 2003.
When the project was first announced in spring 2002, the new extension to the domain name system was welcomed by European businesses that were turned off from top-level domain shuffles following the launch of .biz, and the legal wrangling that went with it.
Estelle Dumout of ZDNet France reported from Paris.