Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

 

In which language should I submit the concept note and/or full project proposal?

You must submit your concept note in English only.

As for the full proposal, we strongly recommend that applicants fill in the technical part and especially the financial part in English. However, you may also submit them in any of the official EU languages, except Irish or Maltese.

Please note that the grant agreement, project management, formal reporting, key deliverables and all communication with the European Commission will have to be in English.

 

Who can submit a proposal?

Any public or private organisation registered in the European Union. The details are described in the Who can apply section.

 

Where can a LIFE project take place?

Generally, LIFE projects take place in the territory of the European Union member states.

In exceptional cases, the LIFE programme can also finance activities outside the EU and in overseas countries and territories. Such projects need to fulfil two conditions:

  • The project leader (“coordinating beneficiary”) must be based in the EU.
  • Applicants must prove that the activities that will be carried out outside the EU are necessary to achieve EU environmental or climate objectives. They must provide strong qualitative and quantitative evidence that interventions in EU countries would not be effective or successful unless actions are also carried out in non-EU countries.

Examples for such exceptional cases are the conservation of migratory birds in wintering areas or actions on transboundary rivers.

 

Who should manage a LIFE project?

Generally, the staff of the project leader (“coordinating beneficiary”) should carry out the project management. However, if justified, an associated beneficiary or a sub-contractor under the coordinating beneficiary's direct control could take over the project management. Each project should have a full-time project manager.

The project proposal should clearly describe who will be in charge of the project management, how much personnel and time will be devoted to this task, and how and by whom decisions will be taken during the project period.

 

What is the optimal budget for a LIFE project?

The project budget depends on the project type. Please carefully read the application guide of the call for proposals you apply for.

For traditional LIFE projects there are no specifications for project budgets. LIFE has co-funded large ambitious projects with total costs of more than EUR 5 million several times in the past. However, proposals for small projects with total costs below EUR 500,000 have rarely been selected in the evaluation due to the limited output and consequently a low added value.

Integrated projects usually have a total project budget of around EUR 17 million.

For preparatory projects a maximum budget is specified in the documents of the call for proposal.

 

What is the maximum rate of EU co-financing under LIFE?

In general, both sub-programmes co-finance traditional LIFE projects with up to 55% of the total eligible project costs. An exception are nature and biodiversity projects under the environment sub-programme: They can receive up to 60%, or 75% in specific cases.

Preparatory and integrated projects are co-funded with up to 60%. Technical assistance projects can receive a contribution of up to 55%, which cannot exceed EUR 100,000.

 

How much should project beneficiaries contribute to the project budget?

The project leader and each of the project partners have to contribute financially to the project. When selecting proposals for funding, evaluators consider a partner’s financial contribution as a proof of their commitment to the project. A very low financial contribution may be seen as a lack of commitment.

 

What is the best starting date and duration for a project?

Please carefully check the timetable of the call for proposals you apply for: it lists the expected date for signing the grant agreements and the earliest possible starting date of the projects. Costs incurred before the project's starting date are not eligible and cannot be included in the project budget.

There is no pre-determined project duration for a LIFE project. Generally speaking, the project duration must correspond to what is necessary to complete all of the project's actions and to reach all its objectives. Traditional projects last on average projects 3–5 years.

Only under exceptional circumstances, the European Commission may grant an extension of the project duration. Experience has shown that many LIFE projects had difficulties completing all actions within the proposed project duration mostly due to unforeseen delays and difficulties. Applicants are strongly advised to build an appropriate safety margin (e.g. 6 months) into the timetable of their proposal.

If you complete all of the actions of your project before the expected end date, you can submit the final report ahead of schedule and receive the final payment before the official end date.

 

Can we outsource some project activities?

The project partners should have the technical and financial capacity and competency to carry out the proposed project activities. The share of the project budget allocated to external assistance should remain below 35%. Higher shares may only be accepted if an adequate justification is provided in the project proposal.

The general conditions of the model LIFE grant agreement must be respected for any external assistance.

The European Commission strongly advises project partners (both public and private) to use green procurement.

 

Do proposals for transnational projects get extra points in the evaluation?

Yes, a project proposal will get additional points in the selection process if there is sufficient evidence that the transnational cooperation will contribute to environmental, nature or climate protection.

In this context, “transnational” refers to the cooperation among EU Member States or the cooperation among Member States and third countries participating in the LIFE programme under article 5 of the LIFE regulation.

Activities outside the European Union or in overseas countries and territories will not result in additional points in the proposal evaluation.

 

How voluminous should a project proposal be?

A concept note should have no more than 10 pages.

For full project proposals there are no fixed specifications on the volume. A proposal should be as concise and clear as possible. Applicants should avoid voluminous proposals and should not provide excessively detailed descriptions of project areas, environmental technologies, lists of species, etc. You should, however, describe all project actions in a clear and detailed way.

Maps should be annexed whenever they are useful to clarify the location of the proposed actions. In some cases maps are obligatory – please check the application package of the call for proposals you apply for.

Please do not submit brochures, CVs and similar documents. They will be ignored if provided.

 

Can we include ongoing activities in the project proposal?

No, actions that are already ongoing before the official start of the LIFE project are not eligible. You can include actions in your proposal that are significantly different from previous or ongoing activities in terms of frequency or intensity.

Exceptionally, a proposal could include actions that were undertaken and completed in the past and that would be repeated at a similar frequency or intensity during the new LIFE project. In these cases applicants must provide evidence that such actions could not be carried out without the LIFE project.

 

What do you mean by “sustainability of the project”?

LIFE projects are a considerable investment and the European Union attaches great importance to the sustainability of these investments. Medium- and long-term sustainability means that project results are maintained after the official end of the LIFE project. Project partners must consider how the programme’s investments will be secured, developed, made use of, replicated or transferred during or after the end of the project.

Applicants should outline a strategy for a successful continuation, replication and/or transfer of project results in their proposal. This includes tasks to multiply the impacts of the project’s solutions and to mobilise a wider uptake reaching a critical mass, during and/or in the short or medium term after the end of the LIFE project. This goes beyond the transfer of knowledge and networking and involves putting the solutions developed or applied in the project into practice beyond the project period, elsewhere or for a different purpose.

 

Does LIFE fund research activities?

EU funding for research activities is provided through the framework programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020. A LIFE project can, however, include limited research activities that improve the knowledge and data underpinning the project.

Applicants should explain in detail how the proper implementation of the project relies on these research activities, showing that the existing scientific basis is insufficient, and how the additional knowledge will be used to implement the project actions. In such a case, scientific publications are considered important deliverables of the project.

 

Does LIFE fund large infrastructure?

The LIFE programme does not finance projects for constructing large infrastructure.

A project is considered to be dedicated to the construction of a large infrastructure if the actual cost of a single item of infrastructure exceeds € 500,000. A "single item of infrastructure" means all elements that are physically bound to ensure the functionality of the infrastructural investment (e.g. for an eco-duct the bridge, barriers, signposting, etc.).

An exception is made if the proposal includes a full technical justification that the infrastructure is needed to ensure an effective contribution to the specific objectives of the LIFE regulation (articles 10 to 16).

 

Can we receive funding from other EU programmes in addition to LIFE?

Project proposals that show synergies with EU policies different from those covered by the LIFE programme and with other EU funding mechanisms will receive bonus points in the evaluation. An example of such synergies could be a project on improving waste management that simultaneously increases social integration.

However, LIFE programme funding must not overlap with funding from other EU programmes. Applicants must inform the European Commission in their project proposal about any related funding that they have received from the EU budget as well as any ongoing applications for funding from the EU budget. They must also check that they are not receiving ongoing operating grants from LIFE (or other EU programmes) that could lead to double financing.

The European Commission has noticed that an increasing number of similar or same proposals are submitted to various programmes and carries out systematic checks and cross-checks. Failure to declare that the same or a similar proposal has been submitted to another programme (or worse, already even been partly financed) has serious consequences.

 

What will happen to UK beneficiaries after Brexit?

On 29 March 2017 the UK formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU by triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This means that all EU primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from the withdrawal date.

Please note that, until the United Kingdom leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK, when it comes to rights and obligations. This includes the eligibility of UK legal entities to participate fully and receive funding under the LIFE programme. Please be aware, however, that the eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant.

If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring, in particular, that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to be eligible to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of the relevant Articles of the grant agreement.