The Financial Instrument for the Environment LIFE was created by the Council of European Communities, considering the Treaty that instituted the Economic Commission for Europe and, namely, article 130º S, considering that it foresees the development and application of a communitarian environment policy, enunciating the objectives and guidance principles of that policy. In regards to Environment, the Treaty foresees the intervention of the Community when it implies an improvement on the achieving of objectives, both on a community level and on the level of the Member states considered separately.
The LIFE instrument was, therefore, the result of a set of scenarios that have demonstrated that it is convenient to establish a unified financial instrument for the Environment that would contribute for the development and execution of the Communitarian politics and legislation in what regards the Environment, respecting the principles of "polluter pays” and of subsidiarity.
The first phase was instituted by Regulation (ECE) no. 1973/92 of the Council, of May 21 1992, in order to be concluded until December 31 1995, with defined intervention modalities, according to which priority actions were to be established (until the 30th of September of each year) to be carried out the following year. Then a Management Committee was created, it was constituted by representatives of the Member States and presided by the Commission, it assisted the Commission in the application of the regulation and established the priorities in the program’s domain of intervention to be considered for the following year or years. The then called DGQA (predecessor of the DGA, currently APA, IP) was the entity designated to integrate that Committee, along with a representative of the ICN (predecessor of the ICNB, currently ICNF). At this stage the Committee functioned together: Environment and Nature.
The second phase (1996-1999) had the juridical fundament of Regulation (EC) no. 1404/96, of July 15. The application process remained identical, with two differences that must be outlined: one concerning the definition of the priorities that were no longer annual and were now established for the period in question, and another one regarding the functioning of the Management Committee that, due to the specificities of LIFE-Environment, started to work separately from LIFE-Nature.
In the third phase (2000-2006), the process was kept identical, only with changes on what concerns the application forms, as well as of the priorities that were altered in the two years period (2005-2006) in order to be correlated with the ones in the 6th Environmental Action Program. The current phase (2007-2013), which instituted the designation LIFE+, divided the program into three components: LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity; LIFE+ Politics and Environmental Governing; LIFE+ Information and Communication.
The Commission continues to be assisted by a Committee composed by representatives of the Member States and presided by the Commission. The evaluation of the projects is of the responsibility of the European Commission and, though there are indicative national allocations, merit always prevails over all other criteria.
LIFE IN PORTUGAL
In Portugal, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) is the coordinative entity at a national level and has the responsibility to support potential applicants during the application phase, centralize their reception and submit them to the European Commission within the stipulated deadline.
APA also participates in the dissemination and promotion activities of the Program and counts with the cooperation of the Institute for Nature and Forests Conservation (ICNF) for the component of “Nature and Biodiversity”.
In Portugal, between 1992 and 2006, there were 115 projects approved, 61 in the Environment area and 54 in Conservation of Nature Area, involving a Communitarian capital contribution of, approximately, €23 million and €33 million, respectively. In the scope of LIFE+, until 2011 there were 19 approved projects, 4 from the “Environmental Politics and Governing” component , 12 of the “Nature and Biodiversity" component and 3 of the “Information and Communication" component, representing a grand total of €13.5 million of Communitarian capital contribution.
There are also 25 projects approved, including Portuguese organizations, in partnership with other entities with applications presented by other countries. However, the value of Communitarian capital contribution came from the previously established national allocation, according to the criteria of the Regulation. Of these, 15 projects are of the “Environment Politics and Governing” component, 8 of the “Nature and Biodiversity” component and 2 of the “Information and Communication” component. The amount of Communitarian capital contribution involved is of €5.3 million.
More information: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/index.htm