However, both sides agreed that „in the absence of agreed solutions“, the UK would „maintain full respect for the rules of the single market and customs union, which now or in the future support North-South cooperation, the island economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement“.8 This agreement was the genesis of what became known as the „Northern Ireland backstop“. the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland annexed to the text of the Withdrawal Agreement of November 2018. EU Member States, including Ireland, adopted a negotiating mandate for the future relationship at a General Affairs Council on 25 February 2020 and also authorised the Commission`s UK Working Group, chaired by Michel Barnier, to open negotiations. Negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK started on 5 March. By the end of October 2020, nine formal rounds of negotiations had taken place. Between these rounds, informal contacts took place between the EU`s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the UK chief negotiator, David Frost, and their teams. The agreement also provides for a transitional period, which lasts until 31 December 2020 and can be extended once by mutual agreement. During the transition period, EU law will continue to apply to the UK (including participation in the European Economic Area, the Single 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 adjust to the new situation, and the UK and EU governments time to negotiate a new EU-UK trade deal.   The agreement covers issues such as money, civil rights, border arrangements and dispute settlement. It also includes a transition period and an overview of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.