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The LIFE Programme

The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and conservation initiatives. 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.



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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.  From 1972, measures to limit pollution and improve waste management were adopted. Then, 1979 saw the adoption of the Birds Directive which called for co-financing for the management of Special Protected Areas dedicated to birdlife preservation. EU financial assistance for nature conservation was first made available in the early 1980s.

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.



To date there have been three complete phases of the programme (LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999 and LIFE III: 2000-2006). During this period, LIFE has co-financed some 3104 projects across the EU, contributing approximately €2.2 billion to the protection of the environment.

The current phase of the programme, LIFE+, runs from 2007-2013 and has a budget of €2.143 billion.

LIFE+ is regulated by (EC) No 614/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+).

The programme consists of three thematic components: LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance, and LIFE+ Information and Communication.

LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity

It promotes actions for conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna of EU interest. It will co-finance best practice or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Natura 2000 network. At least 50 percent of the LIFE+ budget for project co-financing must be dedicated to LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity projects.

LIFE+ Environment Policy & Governance

The Environment Policy & Governance component continues and extends the former LIFE Environment programme. It will co-finance innovative or pilot projects that contribute to the implementation of European environmental policy and the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. It will also help monitor short and long-term pressures on our environment.

LIFE+ Information & Communication

This new component will co-finance 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.

Want to know more about LIFE?

Further information can be found in the LIFE homepage, which also contains information about previous phases.

A list of “Best LIFE projects” is also available here, as well as user-friendly database including all LIFE projects since 1992



LIFE's oficial website:

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