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Croatia Gets Green Light to Become EU’s 28th Member in July

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Croatia got the final green light to join the European Union in July, winning EU approval for steps to overhaul its shipbuilding industry, streamline the justice system and stiffen border controls.

Croatia’s completion of 10 “priority actions” puts it on track to become the bloc’s 28th member, the European Commission said today in a report released in Brussels.

“Croatia’s forthcoming accession is the result of 10 years of a rigorous process, which started with its application for membership in 2003,” said the commission, which oversees EU expansion.

European governments are touting the entry of Croatia and Latvia’s likely adoption of the euro next January as signs of the bloc’s continued appeal in the face of the three-year debt crisis.

“There are many challenges and opportunities for expansion further in the Balkans,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule told a news conference in Zagreb. “There is talk of expansion fatigue but we seem to have a reform fatigue.”

So far, 22 EU countries have ratified Croatia’s entry treaty. The commission said it expects the remaining five to do so “in good time” so Croatia can join on July 1. Slovenian lawmakers are set to approve Croatia’s entry into the world’s largest trading bloc on April 2.

“Croatia will do all in its power to help others in the region to enforce reforms needed for EU membership,” Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic told the same news conference.

To contact the reporters on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net; Boris Cerni in Ljubljana at bcerni@bloomberg.net

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

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