Common pitfalls


We cannot stress the importance of reading the guidelines ENOUGH! We also strongly recommend reading the below common problems as to why LIFE projects have been rejected in previous calls.


General Issues

  • Lack of quantification - you need to show the Commission exactly what you will achieve to demonstrate value for money. They want ambitious targets and these should be put at the front of the proposal. 
  • It is essential to know your baseline. If you do not know the extent of the environmental problem then how do you know that your solution works and should be replicated across the EU?
  • Ensure you fully explain the relevance of the proposal to EU policy and why the problem targeted is a concern at EU level.  Proposals are evaluated for European added value and you have to show how your proposals will contribute to EU policy objectives. Which other MS are affected by your problem? Why does it need EU action?
  • Ensure proposals provide  sufficient detail to enable a proper evaluation to be undertaken.  Explain fully what is proposed.  Many proposals fall down on the lack of detail in Forms B2, which set out the project description and problem to be targeted. Don't leave hanging questions.
  • Provide more detail on the demonstration/ innovative elements of the proposal, such as explaining why the innovative aspect is innovative in the project’s area; and that the innovation has not already been applied elsewhere.
  • Ensure that agreements on any co-funding are in place before proposal submission, to avoid possible disappointment at a later stage, should the proposal have to be pulled through withdrawal of co-funding.
  • Be aware - you may be given as little time as 24 hours to turn around requests for further information !


Environmental Problem

  • Make sure there is a clear link between environmental threats and problems, objectives, actions and expected results.
  • Describe the actual environmental problems in detail and quantified all claims and issues.
  • Describe  any pre-operational context in detail.
  • Explain the relevant related European policy.
  • Describe any threats on a local to EU level.



  • Explain and counteract any uncertainties in the action plan.
  • Ensure permits and license procedures are understood and allowed for.
  • Make sure actions are carefully thought out and described so that there is sufficient detail for a sound assessment of their eligibility and cost-efficiency. All actions should state why, how and by whom they will be undertaken.
  • Describe any difficulties, for example with management and dissemination (e.g. lack of interest from target audience) and explain how they will be addressed.
  • Provide qualitative and quantitative indicators for all actions.  Make sure your indicator spreadsheet matches the information provided in the forms - it is very easy to change one form but not the next.
  • Make sure the actions have the necessary range and extent to achieve the results and impact.
  • Ensure there are sufficient resources and activity to assess and measure project progress.
  • Expected results should be well anticipated, listed in detail, quantified and have risk mitigation actions.
  • Make sure that the expected results will lead to a change in the state of the environment during the project’s lifetime.
  • Do you need to identify other funding sources that could make the project results sustainable after the project has finished?


Stakeholders/Target Audience

  • Know your stakeholders before submitting the proposal e.g. get them on board at an early stage; know who you need to work with to deliver project actions.  Get letters of support.
  • Describe in detail the stakeholders for the project (who, how many and how they will contribute). You need to be specific - it is not enough to say they are stakeholders.
  • Add an organogram to help explain complex project structures. 
  • Demonstrate that they have an interest and involvement in the project and include information at both a UK and European level.
  • Explain the current levels of awareness of the target audience.
  • Try to illustrate links to any EU networks - this will help demonstrate replicability and transferability.



  • Include a project operational hierarchy.
  • Clearly describe the responsibilities and chains of command.
  • Ensure that the relationship between the different beneficiaries is clearly understood.
  • Describe how the projects partners have sufficient expertise to achieve the outcomes and impact of the project.


Risk and Contingency

  • Make sure the contingency plan addresses all relevant issues.
  • Is the overall risk of the project failing addressed?
  • Allow sufficient preparation to minimise potential difficulties faced by the project.
  • Have you allowed sufficient time at the start of the project to get it up and running and at the end to write up the final reports (to receive the final payment). Allow more time for both elements as you can finish early but extending the project's duration is difficult.


Filling in the Forms online

  • The Commissions eProposal tool allows applicants for LIFE "traditional" projects to create proposal(s) online following registration as advised in the call documentation. Only proposals submitted through eProposal are eligible to be evaluated.
  • Make sure you fill in all the obligatory forms.
  • Ensure forms A2, A4, A5, A7 and A8 (if required) are signed, stamped and dated.
  • Include detailed maps if appropriate (format A3 or A4): ensure they include a readable scale, title and background details (e.g. village names, rivers, etc.).
  • Some forms or sections are blank, ensure you have indicated 'not applicable', 'no relevant information' or an equivalent acknowledgement.
  • Give yourself plenty of time!


Nature and Biodiversity

Common reasons for proposals to be rejected during the evaluation process:

  • Proposals earmark less than 25% of the provisional project budget for concrete conservation actions.  Proposals can be rejected during the evaluation if certain actions are considered ineligible and removed, and the percentage of concrete actions falls below 25%.
  • Site-related activities e.g. do they link to the information available on the Standard Data Forms and Article 12/17 reporting?
  • Specific to LIFE Biodiversity: proposals do not meet the demonstration or innovation criteria.  Proposals consisting essentially of best practice actions (i.e. LIFE Nature) are likely to be rejected.
  • The description of project actions is poor/ insufficient.
  • Forms are missing or incomplete; mandatory signatures/ dates of signature are missing; mandatory financial annexes are missing.
  • Beneficiaries are not legally registered in the EU.


Environment and Resource Efficiency

Common reasons for proposals to be rejected during the evaluation process:

  • Proposals are not related to the priority areas of action set out in the Guidelines for Applicants.
  • Proposals do not meet the innovation/ demonstration criteria.
  • Proposals contain no/ limited/ vague logical links between the environmental problem targeted and the objectives, actions and intended results.
  • Demonstration activities described are not carried out during the project’s life time, or undertaken in a later phase to allow insufficient time to effectively evaluate results.
  • Proposals do not provide proper quantification of results or of environmental impacts.
  • Expected project results are not clear enough to enable assessment of permanence.  Limited contribution to solving the problem.
  • There is no contribution to policy development or implementation.
  • Project actions are often poorly described.
  • Project costs are not well justified or described or offer value for money.
  • There is no proper management structure in place.
  • Proposals do not allow adequate planning/ buffer times for e.g. obtaining permits, authorisations or potential unforeseen events.
  • Proposals provide poor dissemination strategies.


Environmental Governance and Information.

Common reasons for proposals to be rejected during the evaluation process:

  • Proposals show a lack of awareness or incorrect identification of the true problem to be targeted.
  • Background information, the current situation, scale of problems, measures already taken are poorly described.  The integration of proposed actions into the current context are insufficiently described and without concrete quantified information to enable an informed policy decision.
  • Project objectives and results are not quantified – the evaluators needed to see adequate quantified concrete objectives (i.e. impacts and meaningful, measurable results).
  • Proposals contain poor task descriptions, lacking sufficient detail, obligatory information/crucial information.
  • Poor project budget (e.g. overpriced, insufficient detail provided, costs missing).
  • Poor project management structure, especially for large partnerships.
  • Proposals contain insufficient risk assessment and contingency planning.
  • Partnerships lack pertinent environmental and/ or communications expertise.
  • Proposals lack a clear strategy (e.g. linking with other ongoing local, regional, national, EU initiatives in the same area; links with previous and future activities/ actions).
  • Proposals provide insufficient detail (e.g. “we will deliver ‘x’ workshops” without any more detail on aim, content or scale of the events).
  • Projects are considered to have little overall effect on the targeted environmental problem.