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LIFE programme

Overall budget available

The total budget for the Life programme 2021-2027 is € €5.4 billion

What is the goal of the funding programme?

All current and future EU generations are affected by environmental and climate problems. These problems impact on citizens’ health and quality of life, as well as the availability and status of natural resources, implying social and economic costs. The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action.

How is the funding programme structured?

LIFE comprises four sub-programmes:

  1. Nature and biodiversity
  2. Circular economy and quality of life
  3. Climate change mitigation and adaptation
  4. Clean energy transition

In these sub-programmes, LIFE finances activities such as:

  • Strategic nature projects' that support the achievement of EU nature and biodiversity objectives, by implementing coherent action programmes in Member States in order to mainstream the objectives and priorities into other policies and financing instruments.
  • Strategic integrated projects' that implement – on a regional, multi-regional, national or transnational scale – environmental or climate strategies or action plans developed by Member State authorities and required by specific EU environmental, climate or relevant energy legislation or policy.
  • Standard action projects that pursue the specific objectives of the LIFE programme.
  • Building capacity to support energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Studies, the evaluation and monitoring of policies, information and communication activities, prizes, etc.

What thematic areas are covered?

The LIFE Programme (2021-2027) will cover the following areas:

  • Nature and biodiversity: The Nature and Biodiversity sub-programme will aim at the protection and restoration of Europe’s nature and halting and reversing biodiversity loss.
  • Circular Economy and Quality of Life: The Circular economy and quality of life sub-programme aims at facilitating the transition toward a sustainable, circular, toxic-free, energy-efficient and climate-resilient economy and at protecting, restoring and improving the quality of the environment, either through direct interventions or by supporting the integration of those objectives in other policies.
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: The Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation sub-programme will contribute to the shift towards a sustainable, energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and resilient economy, thereby contributing to sustainable development.
  • Clear Energy transition: Building on the success of the Intelligent Energy Europe (2003-2013) and Horizon 2020 Energy Efficiency (2014-2020) programmes, the LIFE Clean Energy Transition sub-programme continues to support the delivery of EU policies in the field of sustainable energy, in particular, the European Green Deal, the Energy Union (2030 energy and climate targets) and the European Union’s 2050 long-term decarbonisation strategy.

What is in it for the social economy?

The LIFE programme supports a wide array of projects pertaining to fields including environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information. It is also investing in various climate change mitigation, adaptation, and governance and information projects. As well as supporting public authorities, NGOs, universities and institutes, the LIFE programme helps companies bring their green products, technologies, services, and processes to the market.

Social economy organisations with a focus on green transition (in the widest sense) may benefit from LIFE funding be it for a social enterprise using plastic found in the sea and beaches to produce swimwear or an association promoting education on local biodiversity protection.

As well as supporting public authorities, NGOs, universities and institutes, LIFE programme helps companies bring their green products, technologies, services, and processes to the market.

Who is eligible to apply?

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.

How to apply?

  1. Understand the programme: Familiarize yourself with the objectives and priorities of the LIFE programme. This will help you determine if your project aligns with the programme's goals.
  2. The programme is managed under direct management. The life programme delivers different types of grants. It’s important to determine which type of grant fits best to your financial needs.
  3. You will have to find all the information about the next calls. The European Commission makes use of the Funding & tender opportunities portal to ensure applicants have a common entry point to most EU grants. You can also find the latest news about the publication of calls here.

The budget of the LIFE programme is mainly implemented through direct management (grants, procurement, and prizes). Indirect management can be used for specific activities e.g. to finance technical assistance services to support investment operations, activities of international organisations or other assimilated bodies.

Funding can be mobilised via the following activities:

  • Grants (which includes Strategic Nature Projects, Strategic Integrated Projects, Standard Action Projects, Technical Assistance Projects, Other Actions and Operating Grants)
  • Procurement
  • Prizes
  • Support to investment operations, including technical assistance and blending.

Where to find more information?

How to contact organisations who manage the programme?

Through the support for applicant webpage, you can find further information on LIFE calls, info days, partner search tools, National Contact Points and FAQs

Organisations who provide support?

  • The European team in your local authority or chamber of commerce can provide tailor-made information.
  • Your national or regional authorities, networks, and incubators are the best entry points to access tailor-made information regarding your needs!

Background information

History of the programme

The LIFE programme began in 1992 and has co-financed thousands of projects in the field of environmental protection. To know more about the historical background, you will find extensive information visiting the History of LIFE webpage !

Responsible Directorate-General in the European Commission

For the programme implementation under direct management, the Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) is the lead Directorate-General with support from the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) and the Directorate-General for Energy (ENER). The new Climate, Infrastructures and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) is entrusted with the management of the bulk of grants and some procurement activities mainly linked to project management


2021 - 2027