The European Commission is expected to provide significantly more money for regional environmental and climate projects under proposals scheduled to be unveiled on Monday (12 December).
The successor to the current Financial Instrument for the Environment, known as the LIFE programme, is likely to include €3.2 billion in funding for the 2014-2020 budget, 52% more than the €2.1 billion package approved five years ago.
One-quarter of the budget is expected to be dedicated to climate change adaptation.
LIFE has been in operation since 1992 and helps finance environmental initiatives in the EU as well as in some candidate and accession countries.
Push for efficiency
The next-generation LIFE is likely to reflect Environment Commissioner Janez Poto?nik’s push for greater resource efficiency and a more integrated approach to climate and ecology projects funded by the EU.
He has pushed, for instance, for better coordination between agriculture and environmental policies in areas such as water and soil contamination and is expected to seek a consolidation of pollution laws and regulations under umbrella legislation akin to America’s Clean Air Act.
“Resource efficiency is unavoidable,” Poto?nik told the British Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night (6 December). “There will be green growth or no growth.”
The LIFE proposals must still be formally adopted by the Commission, expected Monday, and then sent for legislative review.
The Commission is likely to propose making co-financing more flexible and to accelerate financial approval for local and regional projects.
It is also expected to provide more clarity in how funding is spent on projects that could directly benefit private companies.
A better LIFE?
The current programme, known as LIFE+, also was intended to streamline funding. During debate over the programme five years ago, some proposals were criticised in the European Parliament for creating too much paperwork and Commission oversight of project proposals.
Since then and the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the Parliament has gained significantly more power over Commission proposals and spending.
Also in 2007, the Greens/European Free Alliance in Parliament sought a significant boost in the LIFE budget, eventually winning a marginal increase of €40 million.
In recent years, the LIFE programme has funded woodland restoration in Ireland, technology for treating industrial wastewater in Italy, a Dutch project to reduce noise pollution in coastal ports, and phosphate decontamination of several Polish lakes.