Croatia's lawmakers have unanimously ratified the accession treaty with the European Union, paving the way for the country to join the bloc next year as planned.

All 136 deputies voted for the accession at a special parliament session on Friday that was also attended by government members and foreign diplomats.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said joining the EU will help Croatia create a stronger and more successful state.

Croatia signed an EU accession treaty last year after years of negotiations. Its citizens backed the entry at a referendum in January.

All current 27 EU nations also must ratify the treaty before Croatia can become the newest member in July 2013.