How could interoperability be required in Europe?

Interoperability could be required for so-called ‘digital gatekeepers’ as part of the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The interoperability obligation currently proposed in Article 6(1)(f) of the DMA proposal applies only to ancillary services and for business but not end users. For example, Apple’s mobile payment system Apple Pay makes use of a particularly secured piece of hardware built into iPhones, and the current DMA proposal would oblige it to give third-party mobile payment providers access to the same secure hardware.

This limited interoperability obligation would not, however, increase competition for gatekeepers’ core services. It would not allow upcoming digital services to challenge Google’s dominance in search and ads, or Facebook’s monopoly in social networking.

To achieve real core service contestability, the Digital Markets Act would need to oblige gatekeepers to make their core consumer services interoperable, too. Users of competing social networks would need to be able to interact with users on Facebook (and vice versa) and users of competing messaging apps would need to be able to communicate with people on Whatsapp (and vice versa). The DMA’s interoperability obligation therefore needs to be extended to gatekeepers’ core products and services for all users.

Core service interoperability could also be mandated as part of the EU’s proposed Digital Services Act (DSA) for so-called Very Large Online Platforms. That would change the scope of affected digital services by limiting it to online platforms but extending it to all large platforms, not only those designated as ‘gatekeepers’.