i on europe


Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

EU leaders agree Croatia to become member in 2013


BRUSSELS — European Union leaders decided Friday that Croatia will become a member of the bloc in two years, making it the first new member since 2007 and offering hope to other countries from the former Yugoslavia seeking to join.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, called the decision historic.

“I hope everything will be ready to welcome Croatia as the 28th member of the EU the first of July 2013,” Barroso said at the end of a two-day summit of EU heads of government in Brussels.

The integration of the western Balkans into the union has been slowed in recent years by the EU’s preoccupation with its own institutional reforms and with the current debt crisis.

The bloc also has been affected by “enlargement fatigue” after accepting 10 new members in 2004 and two more, Bulgaria and Romania, in 2007 — most of them former communist nations in eastern and central Europe.

The success of Croatia may now pave the way toward membership for other countries that used to be part of what was once Yugoslavia before its post-communism break-up.


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