Top negotiators on a huge transatlantic trade treaty between the EU and US opened new talks on Monday with the aim to tackle one of the deal’s most controversial aspects.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), under negotiation since July 2013, would create the world’s biggest free trade zone, removing tariffs and harmonising regulation between the Europe Union and the United States.

EU sources said the negotiators would for the first time discuss in detail a divisive proposal to create an investment protection system that would allow companies to sue governments when they believe their interests have been harmed.

This idea has drawn fierce criticism in Europe, especially in Germany, where hundreds of thousands of people rallied in October to oppose the massive free-trade accord.

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