The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value. For the 2021-2027 funding period, the budget of the LIFE Programme increased to €5.4 billion. LIFE ‘s main goals are to:
- help make the shift towards a more sustainable, circular, energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and -resilient economy.
- protect, restore and enhance our environment.
- halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
- stop the degradation of ecosystems by managing and enhancing the Natura 2000 network, thereby boosting sustainable development.
- encourage and support green ideas from both large and small companies, NGOs, public authorities, citizen groups and academia, amongst others.
The LIFE Programme will help the EU to reach its European Green Deal ambitions by:
- transforming the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are zero net emissions in 2050 and where economic growth is separate from resource use.
- protecting, conserving and enhancing nature across the continent.
- safeguarding the health and well-being of citizens from environment and climate-related impacts.
The Programme is divided into two strands: one for the environment and another for climate action. The environment strand has two sub-programmes:
- Nature and biodiversity
- Circular economy and quality of life
The climate action strand also has two sub-programmes:
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation (including projects in the areas of farming, land use, peatland management, resilience of the agricultural, forestry and tourism sectors)
- Clean energy transition (continuation of H2020 Energy Efficiency market uptake)
The LIFE Programme is currently managed by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).
Financing Instrument: Grants
There is no fixed minimum size for project budgets. While large ambitious projects (i.e. over €5 milliont otal costs) have been financed several times in the past, small projects (i.e. below €500,000) have seldom succeeded due to the limited output and consequently the low added value. There is no pre-defined project duration under the LIFE+ Programme. Standard Action Projects last on average 3-5 years.
All Standard Action Projects (SAPs) in the CLIMA sub-programme have a maximum 60% funding rate. Sub-programme LIFE Nature & Biodiversity offers under certain conditions a higher co-financing rate (67% and 75%). For further details, please check the call documents of LIFE CLIMA and LIFE Nature & Biodiversity
Integrated projects are strategic projects supporting EU Member States to achieve full implementation of Strategies or Action Plans required by the EU environmental and climate legislation. Projects receive co-funding up to 60%, with an average of €10 million LIFE grant per project.
Preparatory projects address specific needs for the development and implementation of EU environmental policy and law. The specific topics are indicated in the annual call for proposals. Projects receive co-funding up to 60%.
Technical assistance projects provide action grants and financial support to help applicants prepare integrated projects. Projects receive co-funding up to 60%.
Recipient countries/ regions: European Union
Recipient categories: Public or private legal entities
You are eligible to submit a proposal under the LIFE Programme if you are:
- a public or private legal entity registered in the EU or an overseas country or territory linked to it;
- a third country associated to the LIFE programme; or
- a legal entity created under Union law or any international organisation.
Natural persons are not eligible to apply. Legal entities established in a third country which is not associated to the LIFE Programme may exceptionally be eligible to participate where this is necessary for the achievement of the objectives of a given action to ensure the effectiveness of interventions carried out in the Union. However, those legal entities shall in principle bear the cost of their participation.
Each year, LIFE will publish Calls for Proposals for different types of projects. All LIFE calls for proposals will be published on CINEA's website as well as the European Commission’s Funding & Tenders portal.
Proposals can only be submitted electronically through the Funding & Tenders portal.
Information including the legislation and rules for participation, templates for proposals, evaluations and project reporting can be accessed on the Funding & Tenders Portal. It is recommended to get in touch with your national contact point (NCP) for the LIFE Programme. They can help you with your application and organise information/ networking events and proposal writing workshops. They can also support you in communicating and disseminating your project results.
Last updated: 24 August 2023