The EU is updating its main funding instrument for nature, biodiversity, climate action and clean energy projects. Today, the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee confirmed the common understanding reached by the Romanian presidency and the European Parliament on the extension of the LIFE programme beyond 2020.
The common understanding confirmed today excludes budget-related and horizontal issues which are currently being discussed as part of the negotiations on the EU's next multiannual financial framework (MFF) covering the period 2021 to 2027.
I am very pleased that EU member states confirmed the improvements to the LIFE programme which we have negotiated with the European Parliament. LIFE is the EU's flagship programme for nature and biodiversity protection. It also funds projects which will help us combat climate change. From 2021 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects can also benefit from funding via LIFE.
Graţiela Leocadia Gavrilescu, Romanian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment
The good quality of project applications remains the key criterion for awarding LIFE programme funding. There will be a special category of technical assistance projects targeted at capacity-building for the effective participation in the LIFE programme. The aim is to improve the services provided by national contact points across the EU and to improve the quality of project proposals, thereby increasing the chances of member states with low participation rate to obtain LIFE funding. There will be a cap to these capacity-building grants. The European Commission shall pursue an effective, quality-based geographical coverage across the Union.
The multi-annual work programmes for LIFE will be adopted by implementing acts, together with the LIFE committee. While the maximum co-financing rates for most actions under LIFE will be defined in the regulation, the specific co-financing rates for the different types of projects will be established in the multi-annual work programmes.
As is currently the case, the Commission will remain empowered to adopt delegated acts to review the output indicators and result indicators which are used for the assessment of the LIFE programme. The Commission will also adopt delegated acts to define specific indicators for each sub-programme and type of project, and to establish the monitoring and evaluation network.
The co-legislators underlined the importance of the LIFE programme for the protection of European wildlife species and ecosystems and for achieving the EU's transition towards a sustainable, circular and climate-neutral economy. Concrete solutions for the transition to renewable energy and increased energy efficiency will be created thanks to a new clean energy sub-programme which will exist under the LIFE programme from 2021 onwards. Until 2020, clean energy projects are financed under the Horizon programme.
The well-known logo of the LIFE programme will be kept.
Background and next steps
The Commission presented the proposal on the LIFE programme on 1 June 2018. Launched in 1992, the LIFE programme is the only EU fund entirely dedicated to environmental and climate objectives. The general objective of the proposed LIFE programme for 2021-2027 is to contribute to the shift towards a clean, circular, energy-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, including through the transition to clean energy, to protect and improve the quality of the environment and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. To date, LIFE has co-financed more than 4500 projects.
The European Parliament adopted its position on the regulation on 11 December 2018. The Council reached a partial general approach on 20 December 2018. Negotiations between the co-legislators started on 9 January and led to a common understanding in the early hours of 12 March.
The Council expects the negotiations with the next European Parliament to start as soon as possible, with a view to being finalised on the basis of the progress achieved as reflected in the common understanding. Negotiations will also need to take into account the overall agreement on the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027.
The Commission proposed a total financial envelope of €5.45 billion for LIFE for the period 2021-2027. This includes €3.5 billion for the area of environment and €1.95 billion for the area of climate action. The final amounts will depend on the agreement reached on the next multiannual financial framework.