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Incoming EU council president sees focus on level playing field in UK trade talks

European Counsel president-elect Charles Michel and Spain's acting PM Sanchez (not pictured) hold a joint news conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The European Union's focus in trade talks with Britain will be on level-playing-field provisions and the defence of the single market, the incoming head of the European Council Charles Michel said on Friday.

"We are ready to cooperate with the UK, but we are also ready to promote and to defend the level playing field and an important point for the future: to protect the integrity of the single market," Michel told journalists in Dublin following a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Asked if he thought it was realistic to conclude a new trade agreement with London by the end of next year, Michel, who is due to take over from Donald Tusk on Dec. 1, said "we will see."


(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Jonathan Oatis)