The LIFE Programme 2014-2020 is the only EU’s funding instrument specifically devoted to the environment and contributes to the implementation, updating and development of the EU environment and climate action policy and legislation. The programme has the potential to make a very significant contribution to achieving the goals and targets of the Europe 2020 strategy, which remains the key reference document for operational programmes and innovation strategies in the regions.
“European regions and cities intend to look for synergies with other funds and investments in order to improve the flexibility of the system of financing and of expenditure eligibility” – Witold Stępień, Marshal of Lodzkie region explains – “We are willing to contribute to the enhancement of the quality of projects and making the programme more effective as a whole“.
Linking Structural Funds’ resources with financing under the LIFE programme should lead to numerous synergies in the development of the circular economy, support for “green businesses”, innovation and the creation of more and better jobs in the EU’s regions and cities.
However, through in-depth evaluation of LIFE, local and regional authorities have number of questions to solve:
• How to find a more balanced geographical distribution of LIFE funds?
• How to improve systems of cooperation and information exchange between regions?
• How to attract public institutions, including local and regional authorities, to participate in projects?
The draft opinion will be presented to the CoR’s ENVE Commission in December 2016, after which the opinion will be subject to a final CoR plenary session vote in February 2017.
As a co-chair of the LIFE working group in EP, I think we need to focus on the quality, not just on the quantity of the projects in the Member States. And we need to be aware that there is always room for improvement to ensure the long-term sustainability of the projects financed.