30.Some litigation procedures under the withdrawal agreement 7.After Section 78 Insert – protection of the EU withdrawal agreement… The agreement also provides for a transitional period, which will last until 31 December 2020 and can be extended by mutual agreement. During the transitional period, EU legislation will continue to apply to the UK (including participation in the European Economic Area, the internal market and the customs union) and the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget, but the UK will not be represented in EU decision-making bodies. The transition period will give businesses time to adapt to the new situation and the new era, so that the British and European governments can negotiate a new trade agreement between the EU and the UK.  Yes, EFTA states are not required by the EFTA agreement to enter into preferential trade agreements as a group. They retain the full right to conclude bilateral agreements with third countries. The government has expressed a desire to join the convention, but this requires the agreement of all existing signatories: the EU, Denmark (which has an opt-out in this area and is itself a signatory), Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. On the European Union side, the European Parliament also approved the ratification of the agreement on 29 January 2020 and the Council of the European Union approved the conclusion of the agreement by e-mail on 30 January 2020.  That is why, on 30 January 2020, the European Union also tabled its instrument for ratification of the agreement, concluding the agreement and allowing it to enter into force on the date of the UK`s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020, at 11 .m GMT.
Switzerland has initiated several dialogues with the United Kingdom: (1) a so-called continuity dialogue, which deals with horizontal issues and monitors progress in each area, and (2) specific dialogues in areas currently under agreements between Switzerland and the EU. On the issue of the Irish border, there is a protocol on Northern Ireland (the «backstop») which is attached to the agreement and establishes a position of withdrawal which will only come into force in the absence of effective alternative provisions before the expiry of the transition period. In this case, the UK will eclipse the EU`s common external tariff and Northern Ireland will stick to aspects of the internal market until such an event is carried out. Neither party can unilaterally withdraw from this customs union. The aim of this backstop agreement is to avoid a «hard» border in Ireland, where customs controls are needed.  «It will protect citizens` rights and ensure the safety of businesses when the UK leaves the EU and ensure an orderly exit and smooth transition, while we adopt new rules for our future relations with EFTA-EEA states.» Art.