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[BRUSSELS] European negotiators are aiming to finalise a trade pact with the United States in 2016 in "an optimistic scenario", EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Tuesday.
If agreed, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would encompass a third of world trade and be the biggest such agreement.
"We will do everything we can to try to finalise during 2016. That's the optimistic scenario we're working on, but it's possible," she told reporters.
Following on from a tenth round of talks in July, Ms Malmstrom said she would meet US Trade Representative Michael Froman in Washington in September to prepare for more talks in October and also in December.
The European Parliament last month effectively gave Ms Malmstrom a mandate to continue negotiations when it backed a compromise on setting up a new European court to settle any disputes arising from any trade pact.
Some of Europe's many opponents to a trade deal with the United States see it as a threat to EU law and anticipate legal attacks by multinationals, especially on EU environment and food rules.
Ms Malmstrom said the aim was to set up a new procedure for dispute resolution.
"We're going away from private courts, moving away to pre-designed, pre-selected judges, having more transparency, having a system of appeal," she said.