BERLIN (Reuters) - The outline of a free trade accord between Europe and the United States should be ready by the end of 2015, Germany's chancellor said on Monday, trying to inject fresh impetus into stalled talks on what would be the world's biggest deal of its kind.
"Our aim is to reach the outline of a deal by the end of the year if possible," Angela Merkel told a gathering organized by her Christian Democratic parliamentary faction. "We have to speed up our negotiations.
"I'm convinced that the opportunity outweighs the risks," Merkel said of the agreement, countering criticism of the deal by saying that it would not water down worker protection or weaken food standards.
She welcomed a recent proposal by the European Union's trade chief for a new European court system to settle trade disputes, a suggestion aimed at unblocking negotiations with Washington.
Fears that U.S. multinationals could use private arbitration rules in the proposed pact to challenge European food and environmental laws have overshadowed the transatlantic project, which is meant to make doing business simpler and compete with China's economic might.
(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by John O'Donnell; Editing by Mark Heinrich)