An ambitious trade deal between Europe and the United States should be finished by the end of next year, a senior German official was quoted on Friday as saying.

Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt told news service Deutsche Welle he hoped talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could be finalized in 2015.

"By the time Christmas trees are being set up in late 2015, we should be ready to place TTIP on the table as one of the Christmas presents," he was quoted as saying during a visit to Washington this week.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom met this week as part of what both have called a "fresh start" to the 18-month-old talks after a new European Commission team took office last month.

Italy, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, has said the window for concluding the deal will close in early 2016, ahead of U.S. presidential elections in November 2016.

Froman and Malmstrom have not laid out a new timetable for the talks but German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged speedy progress given the United States is also working to close a trade deal with 11 Pacific trading partners.

"There is a free trade spirit growing in the Pacific region that I have not seen in the last decades," Merkel said on Friday in Nuremberg at a political party congress. "This equivalent to the European-American free trade deal will surely be ready in 2015."