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Croatia Clears Last European Union Hurdle to Membership in Bloc

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Croatia cleared the last European Union hurdle to membership when EU parliamentarians approved the country’s entry, which is due to take place in mid-2013.

The European Parliament’s green light today in Brussels keeps Croatia on course to become the second ex-Yugoslav republic to join the EU and the 28th member of the bloc. The EU Parliament endorsed the accession bid by a vote of 564 to 38.

“We have given a clear sign of the extent to which the EU wants Croatia,” Jerzy Buzek, president of the 27-nation assembly, said in an e-mailed statement. The next step is the signing of the accession treaty at a European summit on Dec. 9, followed by a referendum in Croatia and ratification by all EU countries. A single veto would derail membership.

Croatia, which broke away from Yugoslavia two decades ago at the outbreak of Balkan civil wars, completed membership negotiations in June. The country of 4.2 million would be eligible for hundreds of millions of euros in EU regional-development subsidies after joining on July 1, 2013. Smaller Slovenia is the only ex-Yugoslav republic in the EU.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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