BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union's finance ministers are set to demand Croatia to slash its budget deficit and reduce spending to bring the country's deficit back under the 28-nation bloc's allowed ceiling.

BRUSSELS (AP) The European Union's finance ministers are set to demand Croatia to slash its budget deficit and reduce spending to bring the country's deficit back under the 28-nation bloc's allowed ceiling.

The ministers at their meeting in Brussels Tuesday were poised to set in motion a procedure that will force the Balkan nation which only joined the EU last year to halve its deficit from about 6 percent of its economic output currently to 3 percent by 2016.

Austrian Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger said "the rules are the same for everybody ... therefore Croatia, too, must live with this step and improve" its performance.

Croatia's economy has barely grown since 2008 and analysts say the upcoming budget cuts will further weaken its growth prospects.