The LIFE programme is the EU's financial instrument for the environment, nature conservation and climate action. For the 2014-2020 funding period, it has a budget of some €3.4 billion View the LIFE Regulation
LIFE funds innovative projects that demonstrate new techniques and methods. These ‘traditional’ style projects are complemented by ‘integrated’ projects that combine LIFE funding with other sources of support to maximise their impact over a large area. LIFE funding can also be supported by two financial instruments, the Natural Capital Finance Facility (NCFF) and Private Financing for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE).
Additionally, LIFE projects can provide technical assistance, strengthen capacity building and carry out preparatory work for environmental legislation. They can also carry forward the European Solidarity Corps initiative by providing opportunities for young people to get involved.
Anyone registered in the EU can make a proposal for LIFE funding and become what is referred to as a coordinating beneficiary. You could be a public body, a private commercial organisation or a private non-commercial organisation, such as an NGO. Public bodies can be anything from local authorities to national administrations so long as they operate under the national government’s authority. If you are legally a private body but wish to be considered a public entity, then you will need to comply with the same criteria that applies to public bodies, such as those concerning liability and debt. A definition can be found in the annex of the public body declaration. All potential beneficiaries whose nature is unclear but that wish to be treated as a public body must complete this declaration.
The tasks of the coordinating beneficiaries are supported by associated beneficiaries. These can be legally registered outside the EU, provided that the coordinating beneficiary is based in the EU. They carry out actions outside the EU that are necessary for achieving the environmental objectives for the EU. A non-EU entity that offers only know-how or assistance in the EU cannot be considered an associated beneficiary. It must be responsible for one or more project actions and must contribute financially to the project.
A call for proposals is published every year, meaning that every 12 months you can apply for LIFE funding by using the application packages (in English only) that help you prepare your proposal. Each application package contains a detailed explanation of who is eligible, the procedure for applying, the co-financing rates and other relevant information. For traditional projects, applicants must use the eProposal Web application to create and submit their proposals. For all the other types of projects, you must use the application forms provided in the corresponding application package. Note that the conditions laid down in each document in each application package will be binding on successful applicants, so please read them carefully!
The European Commission first checks whether the proposals it receives comply with the eligibility and selection criteria. It then evaluates them against award criteria that allow the proposals to be ranked according to the score. After a review phase, the Commission then proposes funding for successful projects, within the available budget. The grants for funding are then signed.
Traditional projects, of the type LIFE has funded since 1992, can be best-practice, demonstration, pilot, information, awareness-raising or dissemination projects.
They cover the following priority areas:
Preparatory projects address specific needs for the development and implementation of EU environmental or climate policy and legislation.
Find out if you are eligible: Preparatory projects
LIFE Preparatory projects to support the deployment of the European Solidarity Corps contribute to strengthening the EU’s capacity to provide volunteering services. These projects focus mainly on conservation in Natura 2000 network sites, environmental protection, restoration of natural areas and ecosystems, and capacity building for voluntary services among ongoing LIFE projects.
Find out if you are eligible: Preparatory projects for the European Solidarity Corps
Integrated projects are implemented on a larger territorial scale (regional, multi-regional, national or trans-national) than other LIFE projects. Under the sub-programme for Environment, these projects implement plans or strategies required by specific EU environmental legislation - primarily in the areas of nature, water, waste and air.
Under the sub-programme for Climate Action, Integrated projects implement climate action plans, strategies or roadmaps required by EU climate legislation - primarily in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Find out if you are eligible:
Technical Assistance projects, under both the sub-programmes for Environment and Climate Action, provide action grants and financial support to help applicants prepare Integrated projects.
Find out if you are eligible: Technical Assistance
NGO operating grants help develop and implement EU environmental or climate policy, by facilitating dialogue with all stakeholders. European NGOs coordinate and channel the views of national organisations and citizens as input into decision-making processes, participate in preparatory studies, and play an important role in raising awareness.
Find out if you are eligible: NGO operating grants
The NCFF provides financing opportunities in the form of loans or equity investments for revenue-generating or cost-saving projects promoting the preservation of natural capital, including climate change adaptation projects.
For details, visit the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) page
The PF4EE provides loans for investments in energy efficiency projects prioritised under National Energy Efficiency Action Plans.
For details, visit the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) page
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