At some point tomorrow one of my email addresses will stop working, and at the start of 2022 the domain it uses will be offered for sale to any EU citizen who would like it.
This will happen because I’m no longer entitled to hold a .eu domain, and so billt.eu, which has been mine since April 2005, will be taken away from me as consequence of the UK leaving the EU.
I registered it as a vanity domain, and as a concrete expression of my European identity, and I used it mostly to register for non-critical services or email lists. I never bothered putting a website up, just redirected it to whichever blog I was using at the time. It just gave me a warm feeling, like the Euros in my wallet, the gold embossed EUROPEAN UNION on my passport, and the way being in Venice felt just like being in London.
But these symbols have all been undone by political reality, and the debate is over. It is no longer a matter of public policy or political controversy: the UK has left the EU; I am no longer an EU citizen; and the transitional arrangements which allowed me to retain the domain come to an end tonight.
Eurid, the registry that manages .eu, will shortly suspend billt.eu because it does not belong to an EU national or a company with an EU presence, and I will no longer have even the illusion of email to sustain me. At some point I’ll have to renew my passport , but that’s for another year.
There are things I could have done to keep the domain.
I could have registered as an Estonian e-citizen and moved one of my companies there, and then moved it to that company.
I could have asked one of my friends who remains an EU citizen to take the domain and let me have access to it.
I could have… but I didn’t, because in the end I realised that I wanted this visible, annoying, frustrating and totally unremarked upon consequence of the UK’s decision to impinge upon me, to be an irritant, a reminder, as I realise that I’m missing a newsletter, or have to change my registered email address for a website I want to use, or have to create a new account somewhere because I can no longer reset the password.
In fact, given my circumstances, it may well be the most concrete reminder of what has changed for the next few months, when I can’t pop over to Paris for the afternoon, or decide on a quick weekend in Venice, or talk to Katie about living in Berlin for a few years.
After all I’m no longer speaking at conferences for money, don’t export, send few physical items to friends and family, and the trade deal makes it likely that I’ll still have access to my blood pressure medication.
I want the reminder, because I regret the loss. I did not want to stop being part of the EU, because I believe it is force for good, and as someone who considers myself far more European than English I think that the UK’s choice to leave was a historic mistake.
But it is done, and the only responsible way forward is to do all we can to make these new arrangements work, to engage at every level, and to consider how best to achieve a fair society for all, where nobody goes without food or shelter or education or medical care.
I just don’t want to forget, and not having one my my favourite domains is part of that.
After the end of the transition period: United Kingdom undertakings or organisations established in the United Kingdom but not in the Union, United Kingdom citizens who are not resident of a Union Member State, and United Kingdom residents who are not Union citizens (hereinafter ‘UK registrants’) will no longer be eligible to hold a .eu domain name.
Here’s the .gov.uk guidance
Here’s the EURID notice
So don’t bother emailing email@example.com. I won’t be picking up…