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Questions and Answers about the LIFE programme

This page features some Frequently Asked Questions asked by people who may already be involved or are interested in becoming involved in the LIFE programme. If you have consulted the relevant documents on this website and still have unanswered questions about such things as the rules governing LIFE, LIFE project management or reporting to the EC, you may find here the information you are looking for. In addition, potential applicants for LIFE+ funding might also be interesting in consulting a further list of Frequently Asked Question arising from the LIFE+ workshops in the Member States. If you do not find the information you are looking for in any of these sources, please contact your national contact points.

Please note that the information on this page is provided for information and guidance purposes only and has no legal force whatsoever. The only legally binding texts are Regulation (EC) No 614/2007 of May 2007 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment, the Commission Decision/Grant agreements with the project beneficiaries, and the LIFE + Standard Agreement and Common Provisions.

New questions and answers will be added to this page on a regular basis as they become available.

Please note that the "beneficiary" and the "partners" in LIFE III are now called "coordinating beneficiary" and "associated beneficiaries" in LIFE + (see the Common Provisions for a description of their roles and responsibilities). When "beneficiary" is mentioned without further specification, it refers to both the coordinating beneficiary and all associated beneficiaries / partners.

General

The application and selection process

Project implementation questions

Financial questions

Additional clause questions

Audit questions

Q : What is the deadline for new applications?
A : An annual call for proposals for LIFE Nature and Biodiversity, LIFE Environment Policy and Governance and LIFE Information and Communication projects will be published in the spring each year with a deadline for submission of proposals in the autumn. Please check the LIFE website for updates and announcements.

Q : How do we find partners to develop a new project?
A : If you are looking for partners in the context of your work or wish to exchange information and experience, you can look in the LIFE projects database.
The database contains an invaluable source of information about each project, including a description, beneficiary contact details and links to project homepages. Users can carry out a search to find projects in specific Member States, or to find projects with a specific profile.

Q : Who can apply for funding?
A: LIFE+ will co-finance innovative environmental schemes and biodiversity projects in the countries of the European Union. The programme shall be open to the participation of certain third countries, see the LIFE+ Regulation for the details.
The programme is open to all legal persons including NGOs, National Authorities, private companies etc. All projects have to be submitted to the national contact points.

Q : Where can I find a model to use in preparing my technical or financial reports?
A: The Commission requires that coordinating beneficiaries use the agreed guidelines and model in preparing their progress, interim and final reports. This is intended to help ensure that all the information required to assess the progress of your project is included, and to facilitate its analysis by Commission officials and the External Assistance Team.
For further information and to download a template for the technical and financial reports, please see Reporting tools.
An electronic version of the financial form is also available on the LIFE website, please see Financial reporting.

Q : Can I get help with the LIFE rules? Who is the External Assistance Team and what is its role?
A : One of the duties of the External Assistance Team is to assist you, the coordinating beneficiary, in carrying out your project and in using the Commission grant in compliance with LIFE and Commission rules. They are experienced in such matters, and you should not hesitate to get in touch with them.
The External Assistance Team is also mandated to assist European Commission services with the ongoing assessment and monitoring of projects and communication activities under each strand of the programme.
Please note that the External Assistance Team's role is only to provide assistance. The External Assistance Team never takes decisions on behalf of the Commission and any official correspondence should be sent directly by the beneficiary to the Commission.
For further information please see External Assistance Team.

Q : Should all partners fill in one single or several separate electronic financial forms?
A : Each beneficiary must fill in the electronic form separately, sign their printout and send them to the coordinating beneficiary. The forms must be submitted to the EC by the coordinating beneficiary for all participants both in electronic format and on paper. A consolidated version of the project's accounts including income and expenditure for all beneficiaries must also be submitted to the Commission both on paper and in electronic format.
For further information please see Financial reporting.

Q : If my project has not been selected, can I apply a second time for LIFE funding?
A : Yes, you can apply again if you applied unsuccessfully on a previous occasion. You should naturally try to identify the reasons why your project was not selected the first time around and amend it accordingly.

Q : Should I apply for LIFE funding if I benefited from an EU contribution to an earlier research project which I now want to develop?
A : Yes, applicants who have received grants under the EU’s Framework Programme for Research for instance can apply for LIFE funding if the aim of a new proposal is to take the theory and put it into practice through demonstration. Any LIFE funding should add value to the EU investment already made.

Q : Might the Commission ask me to modify my proposal?
A: Yes. The initial evaluation of projects is followed by a “revision” phase in which the Commission may ask for amendments or clarifications to projects. The proposed amendments will never affect proposed objectives, but might concern specific aspects of the project identified in the evaluation phase, including changes in the budget. The actual funding of a project is conditional on issues raised in the revision phase being successfully resolved.
Note that you will be requested to submit a revised version of your project at the end of the revision phase which will be annexed to your LIFE contract. It is therefore essential that you be available at short notice at the end of the revision phase to provide the new version of the project.

Q : Which language should I use in reporting to the European Commission?
A : You may use any of the official languages of the EU in reporting on your project to the European Commission. However, experience shows that the availability of an English version of reports and correspondence generally leads to a more efficient management of the projects by the Commission and to a better dissemination of results. For projects selected for funding since 2004, the expenditure generated by translations into English may be included under the budget heading 'other costs'. For older projects, this will be possible only if the necessary budget is available under 'other costs'.
At any rate, the Layman report produced to publicise your project's achievements should be produced in English or in French as should the executive summary of your mid-term and final reports.
Applicants are also advised to submit their application in English for the same reasons explained above. Please note however that the translation costs incurred when submitting the proposal will not be covered by the EC.
For further information please see see Article 12 and Article 25.11 of the Standard Agreement and Common Provisions.

Q : How should LIFE's support be acknowledged?
A : All dissemination products, activities and project sites must carry a clear and visible acknowledgement of the LIFE programme's financial support, including the LIFE logo.
For further information please see:

Q : When should costs incurred be paid in order to remain eligible?
A : Project related costs should be paid during the project period, or after the project has ended, but before the submission of the final report.

Q : Can unforeseen costs be included in the statement of expenditure?
A : Yes, if they are related to the project. If the unforeseen costs are classified as substantial modifications this must be notified prior to the modification. Unforeseen costs should be fully justified and essential to the project. Also note that the final decision on the eligibility of unforeseen costs is always up to the Commission.
In practice, it is always advisable to inform the Commission of unforeseen costs.
For further information please see Article 25.1 of the Standard Agreement and Common Provisions.

Q : Can I change my project's design after activities have started?
A : In principle, no. However, if genuinely unpredictable circumstances make a change of plan indispensable, the Commission can consider an amendment to the contract (also known as a "request for an additional clause"). In all cases, changes in the course of the project must be notified to the EC.
Where an additional clause is necessary, the coordinating beneficiary should prepare a detailed request addressing all the requirements included in the Commission's note on the subject of additional clauses.
For further information please see Project modification guidelines. Beneficiaries should however never count on this possibility, and any risk inherent in the project design should be taken into account from the outset. A good project should thus be able to overcome such changes as, say, delays in the delivery of a building permit, dry or wet weather, or changes in the leadership of a public authority.
For further information please see Article 15 of the Standard Agreement and Common Provisions.

Q : What happens if the project fails?
A : LIFE is, partly, about experimentation. It can therefore happen that a project fails to achieve its intended objectives. This failure may become clear early on in the project's implementation, in which case the project is terminated before the end of the project period. Alternatively, its lack of viability may only become obvious at the end of the period.
Either way, as soon as the coordinating beneficiary is aware of an important problem, s/he has a duty to inform the Commission and the External Assistance Team, and to propose an adequate solution.
Either way, the coordinating beneficiary has a duty to exercise due diligence at all stages of the project and to make every effort to ensure its success. S/he must ensure that the project's technical management conforms to the standards announced in the project proposal, that its financial management is entirely sound and transparent, that the Commission's grant is managed according to the contract signed with the commission, and that the various reports submitted to the Commission reflect the true state of the progress of the project.
For further information please see Article 4 of the Standard Agreement and Common Provisions.
In those cases where the Commission finds that the beneficiary has not carried out his or her duties under the project, the Commission will normally consider recovering all or part of the LIFE grant which has already been paid out.

Q : Regarding the financial audit to be carried out after the project has ended, should the complete audit programme be filled in and included in the final report (FR)?
A : Yes, the complete audit programme should be filled in and included in the final report.
For further information please see Audit reporting.

Q : Should the auditor also verify the book-keeping of partners?
A : Yes, the auditor should do so. "An independent auditor, nominated by the coordinating beneficiary, shall verify the final statement of expenditure and income provided to the Commission when the maximum Community contribution set in the Special Provisions exceeds € 300 000” (Article 31.1 CP 2007. Check thresholds for earlier projects in the relevant version of the SAP/CP).
The audit must cover all expenditure and income of the project. Projects may thus choose to have:

  • Either one auditor for all beneficiaries; in this case, the auditor may have to go and consult originals at the premises of the different beneficiaries;
  • Alternatively, each beneficiary may choose to have their own auditor; in this case, the coordinating beneficiary's auditor will have to check the auditor's reports of each of the partner / associated beneficiary auditors and prepare a consolidated report.

All beneficiaries have nevertheless the obligation to "(…) retain, throughout the project and for at least five years after the final payment, all appropriate supporting documentation for all expenditure, income and revenue for the project as reported to the Commission, such as tender documents, invoices, purchase orders, proof of payments, salary slips, time sheets and any other documents used for the calculation and presentation of costs. (…)". (Article 6.1 CP)

Q : What does it mean it is stated that the auditor of the project should be independent?
A : A distinction must be made between private and public organisations and bodies:

  • In the private sector:
    The auditor must be independent and an active member of the national audit association.
    The beneficiary's accountant can therefore never be appointed as the auditor.
  • In the public sector:
    In the case of public bodies and organisations the audit may be carried out by the person appointed by the competent national authorities, in line with the practices and regulations applied in the Member State in question.
    It must be stressed that the role of the auditor is to carry out checks on the basis of supporting documents relating to the project. There can be no question of checking the accounts of the public body itself.

Thus a private company cannot employ the auditor. He or she must be external to the company, but may on the other hand be the company's regular auditor. A public body may employ the auditor, if this person is specifically appointed for this task in line with local practice and regulations.


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