Before you start LIFE – the LIFE cycle


Read the LIFE Multi Annual Work Programme for 2018 - 2020. And then read it again.


Check the EC LIFE Project Database. It is important that those preparing proposals establish what the Commission has funded previously before they prepare their bid. One of the ways the evaluators determine whether an approach is innovative is by looking at this database. You also need to make appropriate links to previous projects to show how your work builds on from past projects.


To secure LIFE funding, your project must satisfy certain criteria

1.     Your project should provide the EU with a return on its investment. To ensure EU added value LIFE projects must:

  • Contribute to the development and implementation of EU policy and legislation;
  • Have the potential for replication and/or transfer throughout the EU;
  • Have a plan in place for the project’s long term sustainability;
  • Be of a reasonable size (usually €500,000 and upwards); small projects are rarely funded due to low added value; and
  • Be carried out within EU Member State territory (exceptions apply if the activities can be proven to provide value for the EU territory).

2.     For LIFE Nature & Biodiversity: Your project should have concrete conservation actions  with at least 25% of the total project budget (try aim for more).

3.     Your project must  avoid overlap with other EU funding mechanisms these include the European Regional Development Fund; the European Social Fund; the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development; the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Horizon 2020 Programme. Please check these routes first, including the LIFE Orientation Document which illustrates the difference between LIFE and Horizon 2020 as part of the available guidance to applicants.

4.     Your project should not be centred around research, large infrastructure or monitoring.

5.     Your project should be is technically and financially coherent.

6.     Your project should have a clear, concise project proposal with detailed descriptions of the project’s actions leaving no hanging questions.


Typical LIFE Projects

  • Last 3-5 years - there is NO pre-determined project duration for a LIFE project. It must be long enough to complete all actions and objectives set out in the project plan.
  • Costs €1-5 million – can be more, but seldom less.
  • Almost anyone can apply! Public or private bodies, organisations registered in the EU, commercial organisations. Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies eligible – but demanding conditionality. ‘Coordinating beneficiary’ has to be based in EU.
  • LIFE can co-finance up to 60% of the total value of an environment or climate change project. However this increases up to 75% where a project focuses on priority species or habitats- as listed in the Annexes of the Habitats Directive. The Birds Directive does not distinguish between priority and non priority species and so for the purpose of LIFE funding the Ornis committee has created a priority list.


Application process

  • The Commission publish an annual call for applications. The 2018 Call is expected to be launched in Mid April.



  • We expect that applicants within the 2017 LIFE Call will find out by mid March 2018 whether their application is successfully in going through to the revision stage.


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