EU expects surging demand for '.eu' domain

The European Union is hoping for a flood of applications for the bloc's new Internet domain name, as it opens the gates to ordinary Europeans wanting '.eu' as their online identity tag, an AFP report said.

The report said four months after public bodies were allowed to bid for ".eu" addresses, followed by businesses in February, private individuals will now be able to set up Web sites using the 25-nation bloc's signature suffix.

'Nobody knows exactly how many registrations of new domain names to expect "&brkbar; but the interest so far has been significant,' Marc van Wesemael, head of EURid, the non-profit body tasked with managing the launch, quoted by AFP said.

The ".eu" tag is not intended to replace the national identifiers used by the EU's member states such as Britain's ".uk," France's ".fr" or Germany's ".de," or wider identifiers such as ".com" or ".org," the report said.

Since the first wave of applications in January, some 335,000 businesses and institutions have applied to use the ".eu" tag to give a distinctive European flavour to their Web site or email addresses, the report said.

The report said the list of most popular domain names so far claimed is headed by ',' followed by other money-spinning business addresses as '' and ''

Not all applications will necessarily be accepted: so far only some 52,000 have been approved, with 180,000 still being studied and 100,000 having been rejected for a variety of reasons, including lack of the correct paperwork, the report said.