The first .eu domains went on sale at 10am this morning.

At first, until 7 February, only those with trademarks will be entitled to apply. From February, trade and company names, and then finally on 7 April the market will be opened and any will be allowed to apply for the new European Union domain.

The .eu domain has taken more than five years to come to fruition, having been first mooted in February 2000. Cementing its reputation for slowness, the EU has spent from then until earlier this year trying to come to agreement over it. By comparison, the internet overseeing organisation ICANN took just weeks to approve the new top-level domain.

The domains cost €10 (£7), and will be further reduced to €5 (£3.50) at some point in the future. However, if companies want to grab their domain names today, the likelihood is that they will have paid a lot more to improve their chances.

Companies such as have charged as much as €10,000 (£6,800) for a premium service which offers the best chance of grabbing hold of the domain. But with its first-come-first-served approach, there is no guarantee. will simply flood the .eu registry servers with requests and hope it gets picked up first.

Eventually 456 million individuals from 25 countries will be entitled to apply for .eu domains, but a big question remains over whether people will actually want one if they have a dotcom or, more importantly, a domain name covering their respective country, such as .uk.

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