Brussels, 29 September 2004
The European Commission has proposed a new simple and streamlined funding programme for the environment. It will come into place in 2007 when the EU's new budgetary period begins. The new programme called "LIFE+" (LIFE plus) would become the EU's single financial instrument targeting only the environment. LIFE+ should closely support the priorities of the 6th Environment Action Programme (2002-2012) which are to combat climate change, to halt the decline in bio-diversity, to minimise negative environmental effects on human health, and to deal with natural resources and waste in sustainable ways. With this new instrument, aligned more closely with today's environmental and sustainable development agenda, the Commission expects to push improvements ahead more rapidly for the benefit of EU citizens. The Commission has proposed to commit a total of €2.19 billion from 2007 to 2013.
“Even if money alone cannot solve environmental problems, it can definitely help solve them", said Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström. "LIFE plus will enable the Commission to offer faster, more flexible support to environmental improvements. Results on the ground – results that we can all see and feel – will happen more quickly and more effectively. I think this will translate into real progress.”
What's the purpose of LIFE+?
LIFE+ has been designed to contribute to the development, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and communication of EU environment policy. The Commission envisages two strands: ‘Implementation and Governance’, to consolidate the knowledge base and help Member States get better and quicker results in applying EU environment policy. An example would be support for networking of managers of nature conservation sites. The second strand, ‘Information and Communication’ to raise environmental awareness and share best practices, would include support for events such as the successful EU Mobility Week.
The proposal will notably streamline procedures to obtain funding, thus enabling the Commission to respond quickly to new emerging issues. The funding will be available to administrations at all levels, NGOs, environmental stakeholders and others. Detailed guidance documents will be issued in due course, spelling out exactly how LIFE+ will work in practice.
Will there be other EU money for the environment in 2007-2013?
LIFE+ will complement other EU funding programmes which target investment in the environment. Both the rural and regional development funds will continue to provide funding for environmental goals. This will include, e.g., considerable funding for the active management of the Natura 2000 network of protected nature sites, but also for investments, for instance in treating wastewater. Funds to support environmental innovation will be available under the new 'Innovation and Competitiveness Framework Programmes’. Furthermore, EU spending on research will continue to include funds for the environment and is expected to grow.
At this moment, there is a number of environmental funding programmes, with the LIFE Programme (LIFE Nature, LIFE Environment and LIFE Third Countries) being the most prominent one. The budget for these programmes is currently around €240 million per year. LIFE+ will have a budget of roughly €300 million per year during the 2007-2013 period. This modest increase takes into account the extension of the programme to the ten new Member States and that certain funding needs will be met under other programmes.