European Union foreign ministers have formally endorsed the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the bloc on January 1, 2007.

The ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, urged Sofia and Bucharest to continue judicial reforms and improve efforts for dealing with organized crime and corruption.

Earlier this year, the European Commission suggested what it called a series of "safeguard measures," which give the 25-member bloc financial leverage over the two countries. The measures will allow the EU's top executive body to limit Bulgarian or Romanian access to European funds if they lag in implementing reforms.

The entry of the two countries will enlarge the European Union to 27 members.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.