Benefits of having a .EU domain name were the focus of a dinner held in Brussels last week with five European companies explaining how the .eu domain has helped them develop their image and create new business opportunities in front of an audience that included Neelie Kroes, the European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda.In her speech, Ms Kroes commented on the importance of .EU in forging a European online presence, particularly for small businesses. “With more than 3.2 million registrations to date, .EU shows there is a real appetite for a European identity on the web. And that we need to continue developing it – even more so, perhaps, at a time of economic recovery – as a success story of our European project”.European businesses that demonstrated the benefits of a .EU domain were Blacknight (Ireland), Dinamo Riga (Latvia), DMC Group (Germany), Kenlube (Slovakia) and Zazou (Netherlands). The companies explained to MEPs and guests, through a series of videos, why having a .EU domain name makes marketing and financial sense.The importance of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to Europe’s prosperity and their importance in helping the EU achieve its goals of speeding up economic recovery and increasing competitiveness was discussed at the meeting. In order to position themselves in the market and thrive, European SMEs must have an efficient web strategy, which means choosing a domain name that can be leveraged to promote their goods and services.EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names, manages the .eu Internet domain under contract with the European Commission. EURid General Manager Marc van Wesemael stated: “The open borders within the European Union and the growth in online commerce have created enormous opportunities, particularly for SMEs. We are proud to manage .EU which has become a trusted and valued top-level domain name for small firms.”Dinner host, Malcolm Harbour, MEP, Chairman of the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament, added: “The European Parliament is happy to support the European online identity .EU and has been greatly involved in the project from the very beginning. European businesses and especially SMEs recognise the value of using an established, well-managed and secure top-level domain. Sharing such best practices can only help the Internet grow in terms of both safety and quality for future generations.”In her keynote speech, Kroes also mentioned how it is important for .EU to reflect Europe, and that the recent addition of internationalised .EU domain names was part of this.”For European individuals too, ‘.EU’ provides an opportunity to express their European identity,” said Ms Kroes.”I am proud that EURid has already incorporated Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) under the ‘.EU’ level. It is indeed crucial that Europeans be able to create and access websites named in their own alphabet – i.e. not only in Latin script. This is obviously of most interest to users of Greek and Cyrillic script, but it also includes for example the use in German of the Umlaut. You would be surprised to see how much people – here and indeed on every continent – feel alienated by not being able to use all features of their language and culture on the internet. It is therefore highly symbolic that we make this sign of openness available also at the ‘.EU’ level itself. And I will raise this point with ICANN when I meet them later this month.”So ‘.EU’ must reflect our identity, including our cultural and linguistic diversity. Yet to be attractive, it must equally be a safe and secure domain name.”To read Ms Kroes’ speech in full, see europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/10/283.To register your .EU domain name, check out Europe Registry here.