To feed into the preparations of the European Commission for its legislative proposal for a new funding instrument for the environment and climate change, due end of 2011. To insist that local and regional authorities will be maintained as key beneficiaries of the LIFE programme.
European Commission issues the Proposal for a regulation of the Council and the European Parliament on the establishment of Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE), COM(2011) 874 final – 2011(0428) COD. Several recommendations of the CoR Opinion are reflected:
the total financial envelope for the sub-programme for Environment of the LIFE Programme has been increased to €2,713.5 million, to the half of which shall be allocated for biodiversity conservation, and a new financial envelope of €904.5 million been created for the sub-programme for Climate Action;
creation of a new category of "Integrated projects" to implement programmes on a larger scale and help mobilise other EU, national and private funds;
a special emphasis is placed on better governance for improving implementation;
an increase of the maximum co-financing rate for LIFE projects to 70 % of eligible costs, by way of exception, for Integrated Projects and preparatory projects up to 80 %;
a clearer definition of the activities funded for each priority area, including a clearer definition of priorities with multi-annual work programmes adopted in consultation with the Member States;
provisions that will further simplify and streamline the delivery system, for instance by adopting lighter procedures, increasing the use of flat rates and lump-sum payments and lightening reporting requirements.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- confirms that the LIFE programme has proved its worth many times over and should therefore be extended to the next financing period, with particular emphasis on the "biodiversity" component;
- requests to simplify the administration modalities, to increase the maximum co-financing rate, to make costs of a successful project preparation eligible for LIFE funding, and to allow that local and regional authorities once again can count their personnel costs in full as own resources;
- calls for the future LIFE Biodiversity component to cover a wider concept of biodiversity. In order to play a significant role in financing Natura 2000, it should allow funding of recurring site management activities;
- proposes that the future LIFE Environment component continues to be a decisive incentive for local and regional authorities for compliance promotion upstream of EU environmental legislation entering into force, as well as for going beyond legislative requirements and applying innovative environmental solutions, with the projects having a high replication potential for public-sector oriented eco-innovation;
- supports, in order to increase the effectiveness of LIFE, the Commission proposal of larger-scale "Integrated LIFE Projects", which provide an effective way to make the most of LIFE's catalytic value by establishing a structured relationship with other EU funds;
- stresses that the new LIFE programme continues to support communication and information projects, with an increased focus on education and promoting projects which involve local and regional authorities and have significant impact at EU level.