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Financial instrument for the environment (LIFE)

LIFE (The Financial Instrument for the Environment) was launched in 1992. It is designed to contribute to the development and implementation of Community environment policy and legislation. LIFE co-finances environmental activities and the programme is addressed, in particular, to the industrial sector and public authorities.
Since 1992, LIFE has evolved as follows: the first phase in 1992-1995 (400 million euros), the second phase 1996-1999 (450 million euros) and the third phase 2000-2004 (640 million euros). The LIFE III programme expired on 31 December 2004, but it has been extended, on the basis of a positive mid-term evaluation report of the programme, from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2006. This extension period has been granted a budget of 317 million euros.
LIFE has three thematic components."LIFE-Nature", which encourages implementation of the NATURA 2000 network as a priority. The "LIFE-Environment", which contributes to the integration of the environment in other EU policies as well as to the implementation and updating of environmental policy. "LIFE-Third Countries" contributes to the creation and development of administrative capacities and structures in the environmental sector in certain third countries bordering the Mediterranean and Baltic seas.
To contribute to the development and the implementation of Community environment policy and legislation in particular in regard to integration of the environment into other policies and to sustainable development.
LIFE consists of three thematic components under and through which various projects will be financed:
- "LIFE-Nature",
- "LIFE-Environment" and
- "LIFE-Third countries".

1. LIFE-Nature:
The specific objective of LIFE-nature shall be to contribute to the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. It will also, contribute to the implementation of the 'Natura 2000' European network. Eligible projects will further these objectives and contribute to maintaining or restoring natural habitats and/or species populations to a favorable conservation status.
Accompanying measures required include:
- Preparing projects involving partners in several Member States;
- Exchange of experience between projects;
- Monitoring and evaluation of projects and dissemination of their results, including the results of projects decided upon during the preceding phases of LIFE.

Where projects involve more than one Member State, proposals shall be submitted by the Member State in which the project's co-ordinator is located.

2. LIFE-Environment:
The specific objective of LIFE-environment is to contribute to the development of innovative and integrated techniques and methods and to the further development of Community environment policy. Eligible projects' activities can be divided into three categories:
a) Demonstration projects, which further the above mentioned objectives.
b) Preparatory projects, which are preparatory to the development of new Community environmental actions and instruments, and/or to the updating of environmental legislation and policies.
c) Accompanying measures including:
- Dissemination of information on the exchange of experience between projects;
- Evaluation, monitoring and promotion of the actions undertaken during the different phases of the LIFE instrument and dissemination of information on the experience gained.

The guidelines shall ensure that LIFE-Environment is complementary to the Community research programmes and to the Structural Funds and rural development programmes.

3. LIFE-Third Countries:
The specific objective of LIFE-third countries is to contribute to the establishment of capacities and administrative structures needed in the environmental sector and in the development of environmental policy and action programmes in third countries bordering on the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. The eligible projects include:
- Technical assistance projects which further the above mentioned objectives.
- Accompanying measures needed to evaluate, monitor and promote the actions undertaken during the LIFE's three phases for the exchange of experience between projects and for the dissemination of information on the experience gained and the results obtained.
The Commission is responsible for implementing the LIFE programme and is in this task assisted by a committee composed of the representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Commission.
For any financed project, the beneficiary shall send the Commission technical and financial reports on the progress of the work and a final report within three months of the completion of the project. The Commission will take any necessary measures in order to verify if the project is carried out properly and is in compliance with the provisions of the regulation.
The Commission needs to submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the programme. By 30 September 2005, the Commission shall submit, to the European Parliament and the Council, a report updating the mid-term review submitted in November 2003.

Projects receiving aid provided for under the Structural Funds or other Community budget instruments shall not be eligible for financial assistance. The Commission shall ensure that applicants' attention is drawn to the fact that they cannot cumulate subsidies from different Community funds. Appropriate measures shall be put in place to prevent the possibility of double funding.

Further development of LIFE or a financial instrument exclusively in the environmental field shall take account of the recommendations of the review of LIFE, to apply from 2007 onwards. Following the Commission's adoption of such a proposal, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the Treaty, shall decide no later than 1 May 2006 on the implementation of that financial instrument, as from 1 January 2007.