LIFE call 2021 is open for applications

On 13 July 2021 the first LIFE call for proposals of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) was launched! In this article we will explain what you need to know for a successful application: from goals and topics to the selection procedure.

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LIFE 2021 – 2027: more focus on environment, climate & sustainability

On 9 July the European Commission (EC) published the multiannual Work Programme (WP) 2021 – 2024 for the LIFE programme. Similar to the previous WP, LIFE 2021 – 2027 will consist of two programmes, Environment and Climate, and four sub programmes (see table below).

Goals of LIFE

In the table below, you’ll find an overview of the goals per sub programme:

Sub programmeGoals
Nature & biodiversity (Environment)
  • Improving the Natura 2000 areas, restoring protected species
  • Interventions to improve ecosystems
  • Governance related to soil, land, water, natural resources and biodiversity
Circular economy & quality of life (Environment)
  • Circular economy: extracting resources from waste, accelerating the transition, toxic-free environment and so on
  • Improving the quality of life regarding:
    • Air and noise pollution
    • Water and seas
    • Soil (repair, protect and improve)
    • Managing chemicals
  • Governance in relation to the European Green Deal
  • New European Bauhaus (sustainable construction and design)
Climate mitigation & adaptation (Climate)
  • Mitigation
    • Reducing greenhouse gase
    • Improving the EU emission trading system
    • Reducing CO2
  • Adaptation
    • Rollout of nature-based solutions
    • Making cities, policies and infrastructures climate-proof
    • Dealing with extreme weather conditions
  • Governance and information
Clean Energy Transition (CET)
  • Creating national, regional and local policy frameworks
  • Accelerating the rollout of technologies, digitisation, new business models and professional skills
  • Attracting private financing for sustainable energy
  • Supporting the development of local/regional investment projects
  • Citizen participation

Additional information Clean Energy Transition (CET)

The EC wants to develop/spread ‘best practices’ with the CET and accelerate investments that contribute to the clean energy transition. An important step is removing hurdles in the system, such as by using existing technologies. Although CET is focused on climate ambitions, it also funds activities that are moreover focused on policy, financing and citizen participation. Contrary to the other programmes, the CET manages a ‘top-down’ approach: there are currently 18 prescriptive calls open for applications.

For whom is the LIFE call?

All types of organisations or corporate entities within the European Union (including Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)) are invited to apply for LIFE 2021.

Apply for LIFE 2021
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Budget and subsidy

Below you’ll find an overview of the budgets per programme for the period 2021 – 2024 (indicative). The LIFE call 2021 has a total budget of € 580 million.

SubprogrammeBudget 2021 – 2024
Nature & biodiversity (Environment)€ 1.1 billion (approximately 40%)
Circular economy & quality of life (Environment)€ 697.5 million (approximately 25%)
Climate mitigation & adaptation (Climate)€ 505.5 million (approximately 17%)
Clean Energy Transition (Climate)€ 527 million (approximately 18%)
€ 2.83 billion

The subsidy rate goes up to a maximum of 60% of the eligible costs. Within the sub programme Nature & biodiversity, this can go up to 67% or 75%. For the sub programme CET the maximum subsidy rate is 95%.

Deadlines and selection procedure

The deadline for submitting an application (Standard Action Projects) is 30 November 2021. The deadline for projects within the CET-calls is 12 January 2022.

Selection procedure

Interested in applying? The LIFE call 2021 employs a one-stage deadline model due to delays (the LIFE calls generally open in April). This means that full applications must be submitted immediately. However, it also means you’ll have more time to spend on one strong proposal.

This approach will remain the same in the coming years for the programmes Climate mitigation & adaptation and CET. From 2022, a two-stage deadline model will be applied to the programmes Nature & biodiversity and Circular economy: submitting a concept note (maximum of 10 pages), followed by the submission of a complete application (after a positive assessment of course). The LIFE call 2022 is expected to open in April.

Additional information

We would like to give you some pointers that might be of interest to your application:

  • Pilots, demonstrations and best practices are eligible;
  • The problem should be quantified (at EU level), as should the intended impact (including the justification for this). In addition, it is important that the effects are monitored during the implementation of the project;
  • The project size must be at least € 1 million (in view of the impact);
  • Your LIFE project will last up to ten years (Standard Action Projects, most common);
  • Involving project partners from other EU countries is not a requirement (with the exception of CET), but it is desirable as your application can receive bonus points for this;
  • The project can only start after signing the Grant Agreement (around July 2022).

Hezelburcht: specialist in LIFE applications

Hezelburcht has supervised several LIFE applications in recent years. LIFE is a specific programme that requires significant preparation. We would be pleased to support your organisation with the LIFE application process. Our aim is to create a strong application with the highest chance of success. Contact us to discuss the possibilities for your project.

Contact us!
Or call us directly: 088 495 20 00

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