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LIFE+ (L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement: Promouvoir L’ Union Soutenable) is a funding programme of the EU exclusively geared towards the support of environmental projects. It is designed to complement other EU funding schemes which target and support environmental protection, such as FP7 or the CIP.
The general objective of LIFE+ is to contribute to the implementation and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot projects with European added value.
The programme has a budget of approximately EUR 2.1 bn for the period 2007-2013 and is run by the European Commission. 78% of the budget will be used to co-finance projects in EU member states. The remaining 22% will be used to support the operative budget of the Environment Directorate General of the European Commission.
Every year, the European Commission issues a new call for proposals, which will then be assessed with the support of external experts. LIFE+ consists of three programme components:
- Nature & Biodiversity
The Nature & Biodiversity component continues and extends the former LIFE Nature programme. It will co-finance best practice or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Natura 2000 network, as well as the EU Biodiversity Action Plan on "Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 – and beyond".
- Environment Policy & Governance
The Environment Policy & Governance component co-finances projects which contribute to the implementation of European environmental policy and which further the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. The Environment Policy & Governance component covers a large variety of subject areas: Climate protection, Water, Air/Soil, Urban environment, Noise, Chemicals, Environment and health, Natural resources and waste, Forests, Innovation, Strategic Approaches, Governance.
- Information & Communication
This new component is aimed at the dissemination of information in the field of environment as well as the exchange of information between environmental protagonists and the public. Projects that relate to communication and awareness raising campaigns on environmental issues will be co-financed under this component.
Who can apply?
LIFE+ is open to bodies registered in the European Union (public or private bodies, actors or institutions). Project proposals can either be submitted by a single beneficiary or by a project consortium. These partnerships can be either national or transnational, but the actions must exclusively take place within the territory of the 27 Member States of the European Union.
The selection of new projects by the European Commission is subject to several conditions. First, at least 50% of the overall annual budget must be dedicated to Nature and Biodiversity projects. Therefore, proposals for Nature & Biodiversity projects will be favoured during the selection. However, the nature conservation quota being a European wide quota member states can fall short of the rate or exceed it. Secondly, at least 15% of the annual budgetary resources should be allocated to trans-national projects. This is why projects with partners from different countries receive an assessment bonus, provided that the cooperation serves the project purpose.
For each Member State there are so-called “indicative annual allocations”. Germany has the highest indicative annual allocation. For 2011, there is an expected budget of EUR 29.6 m EUR provided for German projects.
Description and amount of funding
Once funding for a project is approved, it is going to be co-financed, meaning that only parts of the total project costs are covered. The project allowance is paid out to the project executing organization in several rates. The average project duration is 4 to 5 years. Usually, the co-financing rate per project is 50 percent of the total eligible project costs. In certain cases a co-financing rate of up to 75 percent of the total eligible costs may be granted to LIFE+ Nature proposals that focus on concrete conservation actions for priority species or habitat types of the Birds and Habitats Directives. These include personnel and travel costs, costs for external support, amortization costs for durable goods, costs for infrastructure and facilities, cost for prototypes, cost for land acquisition or durable farm lease, costs for consumer goods as well as other costs. In general the budget per project is about EUR 1m.
The European Commission is managing a database of all LIFE projects including projects founded during the earlier phases of the programme LIFE I to LIFE III (running until 2006) as well as LIFE+ (for the period 2007-2013). The database allows selection by theme, by year and by country.
Application and Consulting:
Applicants must submit their proposals to the respective Ministry for the Environment where consulting services are offered. You may find the call for proposal as well as further information on the LIFE+ website of the European Commission.
The European Commission launches one call for proposals per year. The proposals (including all attachments) must be submitted as a CD-ROM or DVD to the competent national authority of the Member State. In Germany the competent authorities are the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the respective Ministries of Environment within the federal states.
The competent national authorities of the Member States forward all project proposals to the Commission (the LIFE Unit of the Environment Directorate General). The European Commission, supported by a group of independent experts, is responsible for the evaluation procedure and selection of the projects.
The most important evaluation criteria are technical coherence and quality, financial coherence and quality, contribution to the achievement of the general objectives of LIFE+, as well as the optimal way of using the EU funding and the European added value of the project.
The proposal can be submitted in any of the official languages of the European Union (with the exception of form B1) and should not exceed 50 pages.