Frequently Asked Questions

Why apply to LIFE?

The EU LIFE Programme co-funds projects in EU member states for the protection and improvement of nature and the environment.

What is the budget size of a typical LIFE project?

Project budgets range from under €1 million to over €5 million, with implementation of project actions taking place over 3 to 5 years.

What is the maximum rate of EU co-financing under LIFE?

In the 2018-2020 phase of LIFE, the maximum funding rate of eligible costs that can be applied for is:

  • 75% for projects that concern priority habitats or species as defined in the Habitats (92/43/EEC) or the Birds Directives (2009/147/EC)
  • 60% in the case of projects in the Nature & Biodiversity priority area
  • 55% for all other areas

Who can apply?

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), large and medium sized corporates, Non-Governmental Organisations, Universities and Public Bodies can all apply. Individuals cannot apply.

Calls for proposals – What are the timelines?

Each year in April, the EU invites potential applicants to submit project proposals that contribute to the achievement of the objectives and targets of EU environment and climate strategies and plans (Europe 2020 Strategy, the 7th Union Environmental Action Programme, and the Biodiversity Strategy).

Different timelines apply to each of the sub programmes: Climate Action and Environment. Beginning with the 2018 Call, Environment applications are a two-stage process: submission of (i) a brief Concept Note, then, after approval, (ii) a Full Proposal. In Climate Action, there is a one-stage application process i.e. a single Full Proposal is submitted.

The 2020 calls were published 2 April 2020.

How to apply

The LIFE Programme is run by the European Commission. Applications for funding are made online using e-proposal. Deadlines are strictly enforced by the European Commission and all applicants are advised to note and stick to advertised deadlines.

Potential applicants are advised to contact the LIFE unit at as soon as possible to ensure that advice and assistance can be given to potential applicants.

Eligible activities – what are they?

The LIFE programme has two sub-programmes, one for Environment, the other for Climate Action. Insights into eligible projects can be gained from the LIFE Multi-Annual Work Programme (MAWP) 2018-2020 and the Guidance documentation published alongside each call for proposals. 2020 Guidance Documentation is available for viewing on the EU LIFE programme website and can provide useful insights into the types of project that can be funded.

What are the priority areas under the Environment sub programme?

The Sub Programme for Environment has three priority areas:

  • Environment and resource efficiency: innovative demonstration and pilot projects will focus on implementation of environment policy
  • Nature and biodiversity: EU Birds and Habitats Directives, EU Biodiversity strategy. Projects will develop best practices for wider biodiversity challenges, while keeping a focus on Natura 2000. Projects can be Best Practise, Demonstration or Pilot. For Biodiversity projects, demonstration/innovation is required for certain project topics
  • Environmental governance and information: Information, awareness and dissemination projects promote knowledge sharing, dissemination of best practices, and better compliance, in addition to awareness raising campaigns

The Work Programme lists project topics within the above priority areas that will be given preference by the European Commission.

What are the priority areas under the Climate sub programme?

The Sub Programme for Climate Action will support efforts for better implementation and integration of climate-related objectives in the following three areas:

  • Climate change mitigation: projects will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and can be Best Practise, Demonstration and Pilot
  • Climate change adaptation: projects will focus on increasing resilience to climate change and can be Best Practise, Demonstration and Pilot
  • Climate governance and information will focus on increasing awareness, communication, cooperation and dissemination on climate mitigation and adaptation actions.

There is no list of priority project topics within the above priority areas under the Climate Action Sub Programme in the Multi-Annual Work Programme (MAWP) 2018-2020. Instead, project topics are contained in the Climate Action Guidelines published with each Call for proposals. Project topics are subject to change to facilitate take up of recent development in EU policy, so it is important to consult the Climate Action Guidelines published with each call.

What about applications that deal with topics not listed?

Applications under the Environment and Climate Action Sub Programmes that deal with topics or policy areas not mentioned in the Work Programme will still be accepted; however they will lose up to 10% of the assessment marks on offer and will therefore be at a disadvantage compared to project applications that stick to the project topics. Nonetheless, applicants should remember that the majority of marks awarded relate to technical and financial feasibility and coherence and EU added value, and should therefore focus on obtaining high scores under those criteria.

Note to applicants under the 2020 call: Please note that contact with you from the European Commission will be entirely via messages to you on the e-proposal website: you need to check this site regularly.

What is the overall LIFE budget?

The Sub Programme for Environment has a budget of €2.6 billion over the duration of the Programme (or 75% of the overall LIFE budget 2014-2020).

The Sub Programme for Climate Action has a budget of approximately €864 million over the duration of the Programme (or 25% of the overall LIFE budget 2014-2020).

The LIFE Regulation

LIFE Regulation 2014 – 2020 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 20 December 2013(L347/185).

Successful Irish projects – are there recent examples?

Current projects:

Recent projects:

A database of successful projects under LIFE is available on the European Commission's LIFE website. Potential applicants are advised to search this database for projects in similar categories to their own, that may have been implemented in other EU member states. This database is a useful tool for identifying project topics and for ensuring that your own project proposal has not been already funded by LIFE.

Does Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE)​ provide co-funding for LIFE projects?.

Under certain circumstances, and applying strict criteria, DCCAE may co-fund proposals that have been successfully awarded EU LIFE funding, but is not legally obliged to.

A link to the relevant State Aid scheme is provided here​.

Contact us

If you have any further queries, contact details are provided below. If you have a substantial query or you are looking for feedback on whether your project idea has the potential to become a LIFE project, we would recommend that you submit it to


Beatrix Aigner

National Contact Point

Environment Advisory Unit

Department of the Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Newtown Road, Wexford, County Wexford, Y35 AP90

Tel: +353 (0) 1 678 2084