The European Commission today announced an investment of € 116.1 million for the latest integrated projects to be funded under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. The funding will support projects in Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia.
Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "LIFE Integrated Projects are a perfect example of EU funds making a real difference on the ground, improving the quality of life of millions of European citizens. The new investment will help Member States to tap into resources to respond to citizens' concerns on air and water quality and halt the loss of biodiversity."
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: "The Commission proposed to build on the positive experience with climate mainstreaming and further strengthen climate action in the next EU long-term budget. This increase in ambition will strengthen climate action in key areas, such as agriculture and rural development and external action, and increase dedicated funding for climate action under the LIFE programme."
Integrated Projects improve citizens' quality of life by helping Member States comply with EU legislation in five areas: nature, water, air, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. They support plans required to implement environmental and climate legislation in a coordinated manner and on a large territorial scale.
The 12 projects selected have a total budget of € 215.5 million, including € 116.1 million of EU co-financing. The EU funding will mobilise investments leading to an additional € 3.2 billion, as Member States can also make use of other EU funding sources, including agricultural, regional and structural funds, Horizon 2020, as well as national funds and private sector investment.
Impact on the ground
In the area of the environment:
- Air quality is one of the major environmental concerns of EU citizens. This is reflected in the substantial support provided to Bulgarian and Hungarian cities to tackle air pollution, through actions such as the replacement of polluting household heating systems or developing sustainable public transport and infrastructure for cycling and electric vehicles. These two integrated projects have a combined budget of € 32.6 million, of which € 19.6 million come from LIFE. They will coordinate the use of around € 1.77 billion of complementary funding.
- Nature: Integrated projects in Czechia, Hungary, Portugal and Slovenia will help conserve Europe's nature, supporting effective implementation of biodiversity policy and improving the management of the EU Natura 2000 network of protected areas. In addition to a combined budget of € 73.7 million, of which € 44.2 million comes from the LIFE programme, these four nature projects will coordinate the use of € 157 million of complementary funding from European, national and public sector funds.
- Water: LIFE funding is also helping Austria and Estonia to combine effective river basin management with flood risk management and nature conservation, so that their water bodies can sustain biodiversity and people alike. These two integrated environment projects have a combined budget of € 33.2 million, of which € 19.9 million come from LIFE. They will coordinate the use of around € 518 million of complementary funding.
In the area of climate action, the four Climate Action projects have a combined budget of € 75.9 million, including € 32.4 million from the LIFE programme. They intend to make use of a further € 778.3 million in complementary funding from EU, national and private sector funds in the following areas:
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: The projects focus on meeting national obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Finland, Italy and Slovenia. The projects will achieve these reductions through capacity building, zero-emission road transport and carbon sequestration.
- Climate change adaptation: The project in Greece supports local and regional capacity in delivering the national climate change adaptation strategy.
Descriptions of all 12 projects can be found in the annex to this press release.
The LIFE programme is the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 4 600 projects across the EU and in third countries. At any given moment some 1 100 projects are in progress. The budget for 2014–2020 is set at € 3.4 billion in current prices. LIFE Integrated Projects were introduced in 2014 to help Member States comply with key EU environmental, nature and climate legislation. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to increase funding by almost 60% for LIFE.
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