Together with my colleague Neelie Kroes, I am following very closely on going developments on the moves by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to introduce two new internet domain names ".wine" and ".vin".
ICANN considers granting these new domain names without any specific safeguards for Geographical indications (GIs), as clearly requested by the European Commission and many governments. Under ICANN's proposal, everybody would be further allowed to apply for sub-domains such as chianti.wine, champagne.vin or porto.wine, including individuals or companies having no connection with these specific European wines.
This is simply not acceptable.
Geographical indications are a major priority in EU international trade negotiations. They represent a vital tool for protecting consumers and valorising the efforts of producers, not only in Europe, but in the whole world.
Under international rules (WTO) and several bilateral agreements with third countries, geographical indications and names of wines are protected as intellectual property rights.
This rule must be respected for the internet. In case of no agreement within ICANN to provide sufficiently robust safeguards for the introduction of new sub-domains, it would be preferable to avoid the creation of these domains altogether. I cannot imagine that a double standard would be applied.
Therefore, I will remain vigilant to make sure that we find a swift and suitable solution, meaning a solution that ensures consumers protection and the necessary legal and judicial protection of actors in the world economy. This is crucial not only to guarantee the credibility of the structures in charge of internet governance but also the long term credibility of internet itself.