Europe opens "

The European Union has opened the ".eu" domain name to private businesses, an AFP report said.

The report, quoting the European Registry of Internet Domain Names (Eurid), said hundreds of thousands of businesses raced to snap up ".eu" Internet domain names, with "" taking the prize for the most sought-after address on the first day companies could apply.

Two months after the .eu domain name was launched for public institutions and trademark holders, the report said the tag was opened to companies other than those seeking a site for a brand, as well as for artworks and literature.

A report from Eurid also said that within the first hour, the name had received 23 applications, followed by with 15, and and with 12 applications each.

The report further said Eurid, the non-profit organization appointed by the European Commission to manage requests, reported a "fierce" demand for the ".eu" domain names.

In the first 15 minutes, it received 27,949 applications, and, after one hour, the number had risen to 71,235, the report said.

The report said the ".eu" domain name was not supposed to replace national endings such as ".fr" and ".de" but rather offer the possibility of a pan-European identity in cyberspace.