The LIFE Programme
The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects with European added value.
LIFE began in 1992 and to date there have been four complete phases of the programme (LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999, LIFE III: 2000-2006 and LIFE+: 2007-2013). During this period, LIFE has co-financed some 3954 projects across the EU, contributing approximately 3.1 billion Euros to the protection of the environment.
During the late 1980s, public consciousness about environmental threats grew rapidly. Large scale environmental disasters such as the Chernobyl catastrophe focused attention on the need for higher levels of environmental protection. Issues such as the holes in the ozone layer over the poles and global warming prompted an acceleration in European environmental policy-making and institution-building.
However, EU action on the environment can be traced back even earlier. EU financial assistance for nature conservation was first made available in the early 1980s, following on initiatives dating back to the 1970s. From 1972, measures to limit pollution and improve waste management were adopted. Then, 1979 saw the adoption of the Birds Directive, hailed by Birdlife International as 'one of the soundest pieces of bird conservation legislation worldwide'. The directive called for co-financing for the management of Special Protected Areas dedicated to birdlife preservation.
This recognition of the importance of providing financial assistance for habitat protection was taken forward in 1982 when the European Parliament succeeded in introducing a small budget line for nature conservation, enabling financing of a dozen or so projects. This funding was renewed in 1983 and provided support for small-scale, preparatory projects that nevertheless had a significant impact. In respect of the later ACE Regulations (Action Communautaire pour l'Environnement or EU Actions for the Environment), this support was known as pre-ACE.
LIFE+ (2007 - 2013)
The fourth phase of the LIFE programme, LIFE+ ran from 2007-2013 and had a budget of €2.143 billion. It consisted of three components: LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance, and LIFE+ Information and Communication.
LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity continued and extended the former LIFE Nature programme. It co-financed best practice or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives and the Natura 2000 network. It also co-financed innovative or demonstration projects contributing to the implementation of the objectives of Commission Communication (COM (2006) 216 final) on "Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 – and beyond". At least 50% of the LIFE+ budget for project co-financing was required to be dedicated to LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity projects.
LIFE+ Environment Policy & Governance continued and extended the former LIFE Environment programme. It co-financed innovative or pilot projects contributing to the implementation of European environmental policy and the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. It also helped monitor pressures (including the long-term monitoring of forests and environmental interactions) on our environment.
LIFE+ Information & Communicationwas a new component that co-financed projects relating to communication and awareness-raising campaigns on environmental, nature protection or biodiversity conservation issues, as well as projects related to forest fire prevention (awareness raising, special training).
For more information. please visit LIFE Programme website.