EU backs Croatia to join as 28th member state in July

  • Croatia has emerged closer to joining the European Union after the European Commission gave the nation the green light to join the bloc as its 28th member state on July 1.

    Croatia can go ahead once all 27 members have ratified the agreement, which 19 states have done so far.

    "We are confident that Croatia will be ready to join the EU on 1 July 2013," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said following talks in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Tuesday.

    However, Croatia must still tackle organized crime and corruption.

    "EU membership is an additional incentive to carry on with reforms. Croatia is expected to continue developing its track record in the field of the rule of law, notably in the fight against corruption," Fuele added.

    Croatia is set to become the first country to join the EU since Bulgaria and Romania did so in 2007.

    The country has spent the last decade negotiating entry into the EU.