On 23 January 2020, the UK Parliament approved the draft agreement by passing the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. Following the signing of the Agreement, the Government of the United Kingdom issued and deposited the instrument of ratification of Great Britain on 29 January 2020.   The agreement was ratified by the Council of the European Union on 30 January 2020 after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament on 29 January 2020. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union entered into force on 31 January 2020 at 11 .m GMT, and on that date the Withdrawal Agreement under Article 185 entered into force. This triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which sets out the procedure for the withdrawal of a Member State from the Union and introduces a two-year countdown to withdrawal. In particular, this Protocol shall not prevent the United Kingdom from concluding agreements with a third country which grant preferential access to the market of that country to products manufactured in Northern Ireland under the same conditions as products manufactured in other parts of the United Kingdom. CONSIDERING that both the United Kingdom and the Union should take all necessary steps to enter into formal negotiations on one or more agreements on their future relationship as soon as possible from the date of entry into force of this Agreement in order to ensure that, as far as possible, those agreements apply from the end of the transitional period (*1), the Union shall inform the other parties to those agreements that: that the United Kingdom is to be treated as a Member State during the transition period for the purposes of those agreements. Participation of the United Kingdom in the EIB Group after the withdrawal date The Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom sets out the conditions for an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. On the EU 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 email on 30 January 2020.  As a result, the European Union also deposited its instrument of ratification of the Agreement on 30 January 2020, thus concluding the Agreement, allowing it to enter into force at 11.m GMT on 31 January 2020 on the date of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union. 1. The United Kingdom shall ensure that its withdrawal from the Union does not entail any reduction in rights, guarantees or equal opportunities under the part of the 1998 Convention entitled `Rights, Guarantees and Equal Opportunities`, including in the area of protection against discrimination as enshrined in the provisions of Union law listed in Annex 1 to this Protocol; and implements this paragraph through special mechanisms.