An external evaluation study commissioned by the Commission for the purpose of the VBER examination does not contribute to clarity: it establishes mixed evidence of the impact of parity clauses on retail trade, depending on the nature of the clause and the specific market context. Given these differences, we can expect the Commission to try to address inconsistencies in this area in the revised VBER or vertical guidelines. The fact that the Commission has recently launched a call for proposals for the training of national judges in EU competition law confirms its concern to improve the coherence of implementation at national level. 26 The report on support studies published on 14 May 2020 confirms the results of the public consultation, as the current regulation does not sufficiently address issues relating to online sales and online platforms. The more than 700-page report also provides an overview of the likely direction of the Commission`s revision of the VBER and vertical guidelines. The Commission Staff Working Document, published in September 2020, also confirms the above (and other) issues and explicitly recognises that some provisions may need to be updated in order to cope with new market developments and increase legal certainty. For example, there is a lack of clarity as to the circumstances under which RPMs can lead to efficiencies with respect to product launches and short-term pricing campaigns. The VBER and related directives expire on 31 May 2022. The Commission carried out a two-year evaluation to determine whether the VBER and the Guidelines should be terminated, renewed or revised by gathering information from different sources, including a public consultation, a targeted consultation of national competition authorities, a stakeholder workshop and an external study to support the evaluation. The Commission also gathered evidence through its e-commerce sector inquiry, which started in May 2015 and ended in May 2017.
In addition, the EC`s experience with vertical restraints in recent years has allowed the EC to learn lessons. For the purposes of competition law, vertical agreements are agreements between parties operating at different levels of the economic supply chain.