After bruising budget talks, EU leaders turn toward expanding their bloc to the Balkans

European Union leaders have agreed to open membership talks with Serbia, in recognition of its efforts to improve relations with breakaway Kosovo.

The Friday move is seen as a step toward embracing once-troubled countries in the Balkans.

Presidents and prime ministers from the 27 EU nations also welcomed that Croatia becomes the bloc's 28th member on Monday.

Earlier Friday, they overcame British-French divisions and agreed on seven-year, 960 billion euro ($1.3 trillion) budget. After a few hours of sleep, they returned in the morning to wrap up their two-day summit in Brussels.