The European Commission has confirmed the appointment of a Belgian-led consortium called Eurid to manage the .eu top-level domain.
The domain will be running by the end of the year, and it will sit alongside generic domains such as .com and .info and country codes such as .fr and .uk in the internet address space.
Erkki Liikanen, European commissioner responsible for enterprise and information society, said that once the registry is fully operational, businesses, organisations and citizens in the European Union will be able to register their domain names within the .eu domain name.
"I believe that the creation of the .eu top-level domain will give European citizens and businesses the possibility to acquire a European identity on the internet," he said.
The commission will now conclude a contract with Eurid and then appropriate steps will be taken with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) for the inclusion of .eu in the global internet Domain Name System.
At the same time, the commission will establish public policy rules to deal with issues such as speculative and abusive registrations of domain names, intellectual property and other rights, issues of language and geographical concepts and the extra-judicial settlement of conflicts.
Some further steps have to be taken before .eu domain names can be registered. The commission will contact Icann so that the .eu top-level domain is included in the root zone file.
Eurid will have to accredit registrars, which will manage the registration of domain names for the benefit of end users under competitive market rules.
Registrations will take place in a phased manner to ensure appropriate registration opportunities for the holders of prior rights.
The commission said Eurid will be based in Brussels.