Barroso said EU officials have made sure Croatia fulfilled all "benchmarks" for membership, the EUobserver reported. He said the six years of negotiations were "hard but fair."
"I would like to applaud the Croatian authorities, in particular the current government, for their hard work over the last years," Barroso said.
The current 27 member states would have to ratify a membership treaty with Croatia, allowing it to join on July 1, 2013.
Critics said Croatia's record on human rights is still faulty and the decision to move forward has more to do with European politics than any improvement. Dusan Reljic, who recently wrote a report on the Zagreb government's record for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said Hungary, Germany, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic all pressured the European Commission to bring Croatia in.
"If you look at the commission's last fact-finding report on Croatia in February, you see it is full of criticisms," he said. "I don't have the feeling that all of this has been remedied in the short period of time since then."