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EU agrees to start British trade talks after Brexit deal approved

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said time was "extremely short" to seal a deal on the EU's new relationship with Britain before the end of 2020.

[BRUSSELS] The European Union's 27 national leaders agreed at a summit on Friday to move to trade talks with Britain after the "ratification and effective implementation" of the Brexit deal, diplomatic sources said.

A French official said the EU would stress that so-called level playing field provisions to guarantee fair competition will be crucial for the bloc in trade negotiations with Britain.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson skipped the summit because of an election on Thursday in which his Conservative Party won a landslide victory. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said time was "extremely short" to seal a deal on the EU's new relationship with Britain before the end of 2020.

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"We aim at zero tariff, zero quotas and zero dumping, and this is very important for us," she told a news conference after Mr Johnso's election victory  on a promise to get Brexit done by Jan 31, 2020.

"We are addressing the challenge that the time is very short, we have 11 months to negotiate a broad field," Mrs von der Leyen said. "And it's not only about trade, but we are also speaking about education, transport, fisheries, many, many other fields are in the portfolio to be negotiated." 

REUTERS