Nature and the environment in the EU are undergoing a major crisis. In the view of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the LIFE programme (with its wholly insufficient level of funding) is an inadequate response to this contemporary environmental crisis and will be unable to have any sort of substantial impact. The Committee does however explicitly welcome the continuation of the programme in general.
In addition to significantly increasing the budget for the LIFE programme, there needs to be much more consistency between all EU policies. The EESC has already repeatedly criticised this inconsistency, which has a negative impact on nature and the environment, but nothing has changed.
In recent decades, the mainstreaming approach favoured by the Commission has proved to be unsuited to the funding of biodiversity protection, and the EESC therefore reiterates its proposal that LIFE should be developed into a real financing facility for Natura 2000.
In the new funding period, the mainstreaming approach could potentially work for climate protection action, since at least 25% of EU funds will be earmarked for climate-related measures.
In particular, the EESC welcomes the fact that the new LIFE programme can provide financial support to efforts to develop and implement bottom-up initiatives for innovative, decentralised and sustainable economic models.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the new LIFE Regulation is less restrictive and, among other things, enables projects to be funded in full. It also welcomes the fact that organisations that are important to the further development and implementation of European environmental policy are able to be supported.