European Union leaders gave Croatia the green light on Friday to join the bloc, as they endorsed the closure of negotiations with Zagreb, a diplomat said.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels adopted a declaration commending Croatia for its "intensive efforts, which have allowed accession negotiations to reach their final stage." They called for "all necessary decisions for the conclusion of the accession negotiations with Croatia by the end of June 2011" -- a de facto authorisation for Zagreb to become the EU's 28th member.
If the process goes without a hitch, Croatia will join the EU on July 1, 2013, as proposed by the European Commission.
At the request of France and other nations, a monitoring system will be put in place to ensure that Croatia follows through on reforms in the judicial system between the end of negotiations and its accession.