LIFE program: the European Union in defence of the environment

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Towards the end of the 1980s, following environmental disasters such as Chernobyl and greater awareness of issues such as the ozone hole and global warming, the European Union began to plan the creation of a program that allow for the pursuit of environmental protection in a more organised and structured way than previously done. Thus, in 1992, the LIFE Program was launched, a financing instrument for actions in the environmental and climate field which, up to 2013, co-financed more than 5,400 projects with a total contribution of approximately 3.1 billion Euros. Moreover, during the current 2014-2020 programming, the goal is to contribute with an additional 3.4 billion Euros.

LIFE, the Climate and Environment sub-programs

The LIFE program is divided into two sub-programs: the “environment” sub-program (for which 75% of the available budget is earmarked) and the “climate action” sub-program (which commits the remaining 25% of the program’s budget). Let’s see together what the call foresees and who can participate.

The objectives of the LIFE programme

The 2020 agenda of the European LIFE program for the Environment and Climate Action, in force from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020, pursues the following general objectives:

Environment sub-programme

In particular, the actions that are financed in this area concern:

Climate Action sub-program

Climate Action sub-program provides funding for the following type of projects:

Who can make a proposal for a project financed under the LIFE program?

Any entity registered on the territory of the European Union can submit a proposal for a project financed by the LIFE program regardless of whether it is a public entity, a private company or an NGO.

Particular, compared to other EU programs, is the possibility of participating also completely independently of a partnership.

NGOs active in the environmental field who should participate in this way, could also apply for financing reserved for them (operating grants) in order to support their administrative and logistical costs.

The LIFE program also collaborates with the European Investment Bank (EIB) in order to facilitate investment and access to credit for companies operating in the green economy.

Given the importance that environmental issues are increasingly assuming, the European Commission has proposed to increase the budget available for the LIFE sub-program to 5.5 billion Euros for the 2021-2027 programming, enlarging the number of sub-programs from two to four adding one dedicated to “circular economy and quality of life” and one to “transition to sources of clean energy”.

The duration of the LIFE project

The duration of the project corresponds to the time needed to complete all the actions and achieve all the objectives, therefore on average between 3 and 5 years for the Environment actions and between 2 and 5 years for the Climate actions.

Any expenditure incurred before the start date of the project will not be considered eligible and cannot be included in the project budget.

The expenses eligible for the call

No minimum amount has been set for the project budget, but candidates for information and governance projects on climate action are invited to ensure that the proposed actions are big enough to ensure that the project achieves significant results thanks to added value of the EU.

The expenses must refer to:

Previous LIFE programs from 1992 to date

Through the LIFE program, the European Union has been providing funding for environmental and nature protection projects since 1992. It has so far co-financed over 5,400 projects. Over the years, the LIFE program has taken on the following characteristics.

[H3] LIFE I (1992-1995)

The LIFE I program funded 731 projects focusing on:

LIFE II (1996-1999)

The LIFE II program was divided into 3 categories:

LIFE III (2000-2006)

LIFE III, similar to the LIFE II program, lasted 5 years with an increased budget of 640 million euros. It has been enriched by new support measures to encourage the presentation of multinational projects and the creation of networks between projects.

LIFE+ (2007-2013)

The LIFE + program lasted 7 years with a budget of € 2 billion and it was divided into 3 sub-categories:

LIFE (2014-2020)

The current LIFE programme has a budget of € 3.4 billion and is divided into two sub-programs:

The new category “Integrated projects financed jointly” aims to operate on a large territorial scale.

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