Digital Markets Act: BEREC publishes its Opinion on Meta’s draft reference offer for WhatsApp interoperability 

19 March 2024

Connected networks

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a centrepiece of the European digital strategy. It introduces several obligations for gatekeepers, including the obligation to provide interoperable number-independent interpersonal communications services (NI-ICS). According to the DMA, Meta (as the designated gatekeeper) must publish a reference offer laying down the technical details and general terms and conditions of interoperability with its NI-ICS: WhatsApp. 

BEREC Opinion on the draft reference offer
Following the European Commission (EC)’s formal request, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) delivered an Opinion on Meta’s draft reference offer on 15 February providing concrete proposals and insights on how to improve the draft document. In its Opinion, BEREC builds on the list of minimum criteria for the reference offer that it detailed in BEREC report on the interoperability of Number-Independent Interpersonal Communication Services (NI-ICS)

BEREC Opinion aims to provide the EC with technical expertise to assess whether Meta’s draft proposal ensures compliance with Article 7 of the DMA. BEREC also underlines that compliance with the DMA obligations should be determined in light of the general objectives of the regulation and in particular reducing barriers to entry for alternative NI-ICS providers and allowing for market contestability.
On 7 March, Meta published the final version of the reference offer for WhatsApp interoperability. BEREC will continue to engage with and assist the EC in this evaluation, and is currently reviewing this final document.

BEREC work on digital markets
BEREC is an active participant in the DMA High-level group, by advising and providing the EC with expertise for any general matter of implementation or enforcement of the Regulation and for ensuring consistency with its sectoral regulation.

As an independent, future-oriented European expert body, BEREC will continue monitoring and analysing the practices of the leading digital actors and their services. 
BEREC has recently published its draft Report on the entry of large content and application providers into the markets for electronic communications networks and services which is currently under public consultation. Moreover, BEREC held a virtual workshop on digital network developments on 14 March 2024. 

What is DMA and the designated gatekeepers?  
The DMA aims to set clear rules to create contestable and fair markets in the digital sector. These rules shall ensure a fairer business environment, more and better services for consumers, and more opportunities for innovators and technology start-ups. On 6 September 2023, the EC designated six gatekeepers that must comply with the obligations as of 7 March 2024.