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EU to back Croatia, Bulgaria in first step to join euro, report

Newswire Reuters, citing four sources, has reported that Eurozone officials are ready to let Bulgaria and Croatia into the ERM-2 mechanism, a preliminary stage for adopting the euro as their currency in the next three years.

If taken, the move would pave the way for the first enlargement of the eurozone since 2015, when Lithuania joined the European common currency, which currently has 19 members, Reuters says.

European officials said a decision was imminent after a final backing from eurozone and EU finance ministers, who held video conferences on Thursday and Friday (July 9-10).

Once countries join the ERM-2, they remain in the mechanism for about two years before starting the practical preparations to join the eurozone, a process that takes roughly another year, making 2023 the earliest year for euro membership, Reuters adds.