Malta is to join the European Union's public prosecutor's office on cross-border fraud, reversing an earlier decision to steer clear of the EU project. 

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici told a meeting of the EU's Council of Ministers that Malta would be formally submitting its application to join the office in the coming months. 

A government statement announcing the decision did not explain what had prompted the change of heart. 

The office, which is tasked with looking into cross-border financial crimes such as tax evasion and fraud, will be empowered to investigate and prosecute crimes such as cross-border VAT fraud or misuse of EU funds. 

Cross-border tax fraud is believed to cost EU member states upwards of €50 billion in lost revenue every year. 

The public prosecutor's office has had a turbulent inception, with many EU member states opting out because of fears the office would impinge on national sovereignty. 

Malta's government has previously hinted that similar concerns had led the country to decline an invitation to join the 

"The reasons Malta doesn't form part of the EPPO is based on the principle of subsidiarity, the right for a country to retain certain sectors under its control," the Justice Ministry had said last October.

Malta was one of eight member states to steer clear of the office, with Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden also opting out.  

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