Hungary, which assumes the EU's rotating presidency in January, believes any changes to the Lisbon Treaty, sought by France and Germany to create a permanent mechanism for handling financial crises, should be done in a focused, simple way.
"We acknowledge that this has to be resolved urgently, this crisis-handling mechanism. The Irish crisis also shows this," Hungarian State Secretary for EU Affairs Enikő Győri told Reuters.
"[But] we would not like if this treaty modification due to the crisis mechanism would slow down Croatia's accession [...] because if a country meets [the criteria], then it's our moral obligation to allow the country to get the green light."
Earlier this month the EU told Croatia - a southern neighbour of Hungary - that its negotiations to join the bloc had entered their "final" stage".
The EU did not give Croatia a date for completing talks or joining the 27-member bloc because it wants the former Yugoslav state to provide more evidence that it is serious about fighting corruption and coming to terms with the legacy of war.
Győri said in an interview that if Croatia manages to close further policy chapters before the end of 2010, chances would rise for ending accession talks with the country under Hungary's stewardship of the EU.
"If at least three more chapters are closed this year then we have better chances for being able to complete accession talks under the Hungarian Presidency - if not, our chances are worse or the task will be more difficult."
She said it could become clear in February or March whether Croatia had made sufficient progress on a critical chapter about corruption and war crimes, and whether it could be closed.
She said Croatia should "do its homework" but the stakes must not be raised for the country.
"This is not only about Croatia, but about the Western Balkans. And we believe that for the stability of the entire continent it is important that Croatia should be admitted [into the EU] and then it could prove that if a country is ready, makes serious sacrifices for this [...] it brings a result."
"If not, then the enlargement process will lose its credibility in the eyes of citizens in the Balkans."
Győri said Hungary would also like to see Bulgaria and Romania to join the EU's border-free Schengen zone if they met technical standards. When asked if this could happen under the Hungarian Presidency she replied:
"We'll see. This is very difficult politically, but our stance in general is that if a country meets conditions [...] then we should not create artificial obstacles."
In August, France called on the EU executive to force Romania to stem the flow of Roma people leaving the country, suggesting it could otherwise block Bucharest's entry into the Schengen zone.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)