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European Commission - Press release

Significant boost in EU support for the environment and climate through the new LIFE programme

Brussels, 12 December 2011 – The Commission proposes to allocate EUR 3.2 billion over 2014-2020 to a new Programme for the Environment and Climate Action - LIFE. The proposed new programme will build on the success of the existing LIFE+ Programme but will be reformed to have a greater impact, be simpler and more flexible and have a significantly increased budget.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The LIFE Programme is key to designing better environmental policy. It is available to support all those people and organisations who are working to make sure that legislation results in better outcomes for the environment in Europe. We are reforming the programme to deliver greater impact by mobilising support in an integrated way from other funding sources."

Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard commented: "The Commission proposes to triple the funds for climate in the new programme. This will allow us to increase support to regional low-carbon and climate-resilience strategies and small-scale climate projects by SMEs, NGOs and local authorities. Through LIFE, we can also leverage other European and national funds for climate action."

New aspects of the future LIFE Programme include:

  • Creation of a new sub-programme for Climate Action;

  • Clearer definition of priorities with multi-annual work programmes adopted in consultation with the Member States;

  • New possibilities to implement programmes on a larger scale through "Integrated projects" which can help mobilise other EU, national and private funds for environmental or climate objectives.

The sub-programme for Environment will support efforts in the following areas:

  • "Environment and Resource Efficiency" will focus on more innovative solutions for better implementation of environment policy and integrating environmental objectives in other sectors;

  • "Biodiversity" will develop best practices to halt biodiversity loss and restore ecosystem services, while keeping its primary focus on supporting Natura 2000 sites, especially via integrated projects consistent with Member States Prioritised Action Frameworks (as described in the Commission's new paper on Financing Natura 2000);

  • "Environmental Governance and Information" will promote knowledge sharing, dissemination of best practices, and better compliance, in addition to awareness raising campaigns.

The sub-programme for Climate Action covers the following areas:

  • "Climate Change Mitigation" will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

  • "Climate Change Adaptation" will focus on increasing resilience to climate change;

  • "Climate Governance and Information" will focus on increasing awareness, communication, cooperation and dissemination on climate mitigation and adaptation actions.

Grants to finance projects will remain the Programme's main type of intervention. Operating grants for NGOs and other bodies will still be possible, and there will also be scope for contributions to innovative financial instruments.

LIFE will adopt lighter and more flexible procedures.

Next Steps

The Commission hopes that the proposals will complete their passage through the European Parliament and the Council in time for the next programming period (2014-2020).


The LIFE Programme is part of the Commission proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, which sets out the budgetary framework and main orientations for the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Commission decided to address environment and climate action as an integral part of all the main instruments and interventions and in addition to the "mainstreaming" approach, it proposes to continue the LIFE Programme currently regulated by the LIFE+ Regulation. Combining mainstreaming with a specific instrument is designed to increase the coherence and added-value of the EU intervention.

Launched in 1992, the LIFE Programme is one of the spearheads of EU environmental funding. It has financed over 3,500 projects, contributing EUR 2.5 billion to environment protection. LIFE+, which started in 2007 and runs until 2013 with a budget of just above EUR 2.1 billion, mostly finances grants (these cover 78 % of the LIFE+ budget).

LIFE has played a significant role in the implementation of major EU environmental legislation such as the Habitats and Birds Directives, and the Water Framework Directive. The proposals for the new programme build upon evaluations of previous experience, and the results of recent public consultations. These show that eco-innovation projects in the area of climate change, water and waste have been most successful in achieving direct environmental benefits.

Further information:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)

For more information on LIFE+:


See also: Financing Natura 2000. Investing in Natura 2000: delivering benefits for nature and people (Commission staff working paper)

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

Isaac Valero Ladron (+32 2 296 49 71)

Stephanie Rhomberg (+32 2 298 72 78)

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