Croatia is entering the final stage of its bid to join the European Union, resuming talks Wednesday that had been stalled over a border dispute with Slovenia.

The two sides opened negotiations on the last three of 35 chapters in the application process Wednesday. The final talks cover competition law, judicial reform and foreign policy.

Croatia's accession talks were interrupted in late 2008 when EU member Slovenia blocked further negotiations until a decades-long maritime border deal was in place granting Slovenia direct access to the Adriatic Sea.

The obstacle was removed earlier this month when Slovenians passed a referendum to let an international panel settle the issue, which could force Croatia to give up some territory.

Croatian authorities have said an EU accession treaty could be signed in early 2011.

The maritime border dispute began when Croatia and Slovenia gained independence during the 1991 breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

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