LIFE - Legal basis

The European Commission manages the LIFE programme through its services Directorate-General for Environment and Directorate-General for Climate Action, and its Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).



The current LIFE programme was set up by regulation (EU) No 1293/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on 20 December 2013. It has four objectives:

  1. Help move towards a resource-efficient, low carbon and climate resilient economy, improve the quality of the environment and halt and reverse biodiversity loss; 
  2. Improve the development, implementation and enforcement of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation, and act as a catalyst for, and promote, the mainstreaming of environmental and climate objectives into other policies and practices; 
  3. Support better environmental and climate governance at all levels, including better involvement of civil society, NGOs and local actors; 
  4. Support the implementation of the 7th environmental action plan.

The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2018-2020 details the current funding priorities. It clarifies budgets by specifying what kind of projects can receive support within the sub-programmes for environment and climate action. In total, €1 243.81 million are earmarked for work on nature conservation and environmental protection, and a further €413.25 million for climate action.


The multiannual work programme for 2018-20 increases LIFE’s budget for nature conservation and biodiversity by 10% compared to the previous work programme. In parallel, the total number of project topics in the environment sub-programme has come down from 87 to 42.

Another marked change from previous years is the introduction of a two-stage application procedure for traditional projects under the environment sub-programme: Candidates present a lighter outline of their work at the first step of the application process. They receive feedback on this outline and, if successful, they submit the full version of their proposal.