EU domain racks up 2.5 million fans

First year of public registrations for .eu marked by strong interest among residents, businesses and organizations in European Union.

Tim Ferguson Special to CNET News
More than 2.5 million people and organizations have registered European Union domain names since .eu was opened to the public a year ago.

According to the European Union, .eu is now Europe's third most popular top-level domain and the seventh most popular globally.

It's also one of the fastest-growing top-level domains, with a 17 percent increase in registrations in the past five months.

The .eu domain names can be used by businesses and organizations based in the European Union, along with all citizens residing in the EU. The Europe-specific domain name was intended to complement national domain names and allow organizations and individuals to have a pan-European identity.

Possessing a .eu domain name also means consumer rights are protected by EU rules and standards.

Only the national top-level domains of Germany and the U.K. are more widespread than .eu in Europe. The strongest demand for .eu comes from those countries, with Germany accounting for 31 percent of registrations and the U.K. 17 percent.

Until April 7 of last year, only trademark holders, public bodies and certain companies with prior rights could use the .eu domain.

Tim Ferguson of Silicon.com reported from London.