The LIFE+ programme finances projects that contribute to the development and implementation of environmental policy and legislation. In particular, this programme facilitates the integration of environmental issues into other policies, and, more generally, it contributes to sustainable development. The LIFE+ programme replaces a number of financial instruments used for environmental policy such as the LIFE programme which preceded it.
Regulation (EC) No 614/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+).
As its name suggests the LIFE+ programme succeeds the LIFE programme launched in 1992. Like its predecessor LIFE+ co-finances environmental projects in the European Union (EU) and in certain third countries (EU candidate counties, EFTA countries that are members of the European Environmental Agency, and the Western Balkan countries that are part of the Stabilisation and Association Process). Either private or public bodies and institutions may submit projects for funding.
The LIFE+ programme is divided into three thematic components:
- LIFE+ “Nature and biodiversity";
- LIFE+ "Environment Policy & Governance";
- LIFE+ "Information & Communication".
The multi-annual strategic programme set out in Annex II to this Regulation details the priority areas of action. The financial framework for LIFE+ is 2 143 409 000 for the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013.
To qualify for funding, projects must:
- be of Community interest by contributing to the development, implementation and updating of Community environmental policy and environmental legislation;
- be technically and financially coherent and feasible and provide value for money;
- satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
- be best-practice or demonstration projects concerning the protection of wild birds or habitats;
- be innovative or demonstration projects at Community level concerning the objectives of environmental policy;
- consist of awareness-raising and training campaigns on forest fire prevention;
- relate to the broad-based, harmonised, comprehensive and long-term monitoring of forests and environmental interactions.
Types of intervention
Community financing may take a number of forms:
- be grant agreements (framework partnership agreements, participation in financial mechanisms and funds, or co-funding of operating or action grants);
- public procurement contracts (for the purchase of services and goods.
At least 78 % of LIFE+ resources are used to fund action grants for projects. The maximum rate of co-financing of action grants is 50 % of eligible costs. However, for projects concerning the protection of priority habitats or priority species, LIFE+ may finance up to 75 % of eligible costs. At least 50 % of the funds allocated to action grants for projects are reserved for nature conservation and biodiversity. In addition, at least 15 % of the funds allocated to action grants for projects are reserved for cross-border projects.
Co-financed projects must be distributed proportionately by the Commission. The Commission establishes indicative annual allocations for the periods 2007-2010 and 2010-2013 based on the total population and population density of each Member State, and the area of sites of Community importance in each Member State and the proportion of a Member State's territory covered by sites of Community importance. Additional funding may be allocated to land-locked Member States.
Complementarity between financial instruments
LIFE+ does not finance measures meeting the criteria for other Community financial instruments or that receive support from them, whether from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, the European Fisheries Fund or the Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities.
Monitoring and audits
The Commission carries out audits of funding, monitors project implementation, recovers any sums improperly received, and implements the activities funded.
LIFE+ replaces existing financial programmes (the LIFE programme, the cooperation programme to promote sustainable urban development, the Programme promoting non-governmental organisations and Forest Focus), grouping them under a single set of rules and decision-making procedures and allowing for more consistent targeting, thereby making the Community's work more effective. Funding committed under these programmes before the entry into force of LIFE+ will remain subject to the same rules until completion.