Belgian group beats rivals to win .eu contract


21 Mar 2003

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A high-profile Irish consortium bidding for the right to run the European domain name registry has failed in its efforts to secure the highly sought-after contract.

A draft decision by the European Commission has named a Belgian consortium as the winning contender.

The successful consortium is expected to be based in Brussels and will start providing .eu domains at the end of this year.

Among the proposals contained in the Belgian bid was the sale of .eu domains for €10 each and the reduction of that cost to €5 after a year.

The decision will come as little surprise to the Irish group, Eureto, which includes former Fianna Fail fundraiser and the driving force behind the IFSC and Digital Hub, Paul Kavanagh, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, former Tánaiste, Dick Spring, Rudy Bric of Hermes SoftLab, French lawyer Jean Christophe Le Toquin and German ISP pioneer Axel Pawlik.

Earlier this month informed sources hinted that the Irish bid had not made it to the final shortlist, and this was confirmed as yesterday’s announcement was made.

Several Europe-wide consortiums were reviewed in terms of business plans, services, legal issues and technical experience.

Before news came out of the failure of his consortium to win the contract, Kavanagh had expressed concern that he believed that only three out of an original 12 criteria set down by the EU for running the registry were taken into consideration during the final evaluation of the proposals. He said: “If the evaluation has been completed by competent people then I would be very confident that the Irish bid could be successful. But only if the evaluation has been completed under all 12 criteria.”

Had the Irish bid been successful it would have resulted in the creation of 180 new jobs in administration, technical and legal roles in Letterkenny and Derry as well as the construction of a 100Mb network system supporting the proposed registry, involving sophisticated hosting and mirroring infrastructure that would employ at least 10 in Dublin.

The bid is said to have had the support of the British and Irish governments, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland.

Formal announcement of the decision cannot be made until all member states have been consulted on the draft decision, but it’s not expected that any amendments can be made at this stage.

By Suzanne Byrne