Hundreds of thousands of Europeans rushed to sign up for .eu Internet domain suffixes on Friday, the first day for registrations by individuals, the European Commission said.
"The demand of European citizens and companies will show whether they believe in Europe," Commissioner for Information and Society Viviane Reding told reporters. In addition to the .eu domain, each of the 25 member countries has its own domain suffix, as well as the familiar .com, .org and .int. names to choose from.
Reding said about 300,000 people had applied for the .eu suffix in the first hour on Friday.
European residents can apply by going to domain registrars listed at www.eurid.org, the Commission said.
The domain name has been open to businesses and organisations since December with more than 300,000 applications, of which 54,000 have been approved.
The Commission expects EURiD to register around 240,000 companies and organisations by the end of this year.
That figure is small compared with the 40 million .com domain names, about 10 million German .de names and .net with 7 million names, a Commission official said.
The registrars listed at EURiD offer varying prices and annual fees, and the Commission advised consumers to shop around.