LIFE - Who can apply?

Application for action grants

Anyone registered in the EU can make a proposal for LIFE traditional, integrated, preparatory, and technical assistance projects under the sub-programmes for environment and climate action.

You could be a:

  • public body operating under a national government’s authority, e.g. local authority, national administration etc.
  • private commercial organisation
  • private non-commercial organisation (NGOs etc.)

In contrast to other funding programmes LIFE projects are very flexible in terms of how they are set up. You can decide if you want to run a project on your own, or if you prefer to join forces with partners from your own or another country.

If you apply without any partners or are the project leader among several partners, you will be referred to as coordinating beneficiary. Other partners who contribute but do not lead a project are associated beneficiaries. Associated beneficiaries must be responsible for one or more project actions and must contribute financially to the project.

If you are based outside the EU, you can contribute to a project as associated beneficiary by undertaking actions that are necessary for achieving the environmental or climate goals of the EU.

Specific conditions apply to capacity building projects.

Partner search tools

As a potential LIFE project beneficiary, you may profit from cooperation with partners both inside and outside your country.

Research and Innovation Participant Portal

The Research and Innovation Participant Portal allows you to find partners for your project ideas among the organisations registered in the portal Beneficiary Register.

European Enterprise Network (EEN)

The Enterprise Europe Network can help your business find the right international partners to grow and expand abroad.

CaRE: Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials

The CARE partnering tool supports potential applicants for the Horizon 2020 Work programme of the Societal Challenge 5 "Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials" in finding partners and building a consortium for a project proposal.

C-Energy2020

This C-Energy2020 Partner Search Facility helps establish consortia under HORIZON 2020 work programme, part 10: Secure, clean and efficient energy & Euratom.

Support for NGOs

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play an important role in raising awareness of environmental questions. They contribute to the decision-making process by coordinating and channelling the views of national organisations and citizens. They also participate in preparatory studies.

NGOs can apply for LIFE action grants under the two sub-programmes “environment” and “climate action”. They can also apply for operating grants. The legal base for NGOs receiving operating grants is the LIFE Regulation which states that:

"Operating grants shall support certain operational and administrative costs of non-profit making entities which pursue an aim of general Union interest, are primarily active in the field of environment or climate action and are involved in the development, implementation and enforcement of Union policy and legislation." (Article 21 of the Regulation).

In the past, between 25 and 35 organisations were selected for funding each year. The call for proposals for funding in 2020-2021 will be published in March 2019.

A list of NGOs funded in 2018 and 2019 is available here.

Application for operating grants

The LIFE programme also provides operating grants for European non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

To check the eligibility of your organisation for future calls, please read carefully the eligibility criteria. Any applicant must:

  1. Be a non-profit making legal person;
  2. Be independent, in particular from government, other public authorities, and from political or commercial interests;
  3. Be primarily active in the field of environment and/or climate action and have an environmental/climate objective which is aimed at:
    1. the public good,
    2. sustainable development, and
    3. the development, implementation and enforcement of European Union environmental and/or climate policy and legislation;
  4. Be established (legally registered) in one of the European Union Member States;
  5. Be operating at Union level with a structure and activities covering at least three European Union Member States.

Brexit information for UK beneficiaries of LIFE grants

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.

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