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Thursday, 7 July 2005 - Strasbourg
Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE +) ***I
 Consolidated text

European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE +) (COM(2004)0621 – C6-0127/2004 – 2004/0218(COD))

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

‐   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2004)0621)(1),

‐   having regard to Article 251(2) and Article 175(1) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0127/2004),

‐   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

‐   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A6-0131/2005),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 7 July 2005 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No .../2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council Concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE +)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community and in particular Article 175(1) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,

Having regard to the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (1),

Having regard to the Opinion of the Committee of the Regions (2),

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(3)


(1)  The environment, as one of the dimensions of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy adopted at the Gothenburg European Council in 2001, is a priority for Community assistance and will be funded primarily through cohesion, agriculture and rural development, research, innovation and competitiveness, pre-accession and development and external assistance programmes.

(2)  These Community programmes are far from covering all environment funding imperatives and there is a need to support Community environment policy and legislation, and specifically the priorities under the Sixth Environmental Action Programme as established by Decision No 1600/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(4), thereby contributing to sustainable development.

(3)  These priorities include the objective of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and the need to preserve natural areas of Community interest. The efforts made to identify and designate Natura 2000 sites require a follow-up and continuous support, particularly for the management of the sites in question, as they clearly play a part in realising the aforementioned objectives. The Natura 2000 network is governed by Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (the 'Birds Directive'(5)) and Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the 'Habitats Directive'(6)), Article 8 of which authorises co-financing by the Member States and the Community.

(4)  The Member States agreed in Malahide in May 2004 that arrangements need to be established which ensure adequate and guaranteed Community co-financing for the Natura 2000 network. The Commission has estimated the annual costs of managing the Natura 2000 network at EUR 6,100,000,000 per year, without taking into account marine protected areas. That figure is likely to be an underestimate of the full costs and should therefore be considered as the minimum necessary.

(5)  The challenge of effective environment policy development and implementation under the Sixth Environmental Action Programme can only be met through support for the demonstration of innovative policy approaches, consolidating the knowledge base, building implementation capacity, fostering good governance, promoting networking mutual learning and the exchange of best practice and improved dissemination of information, awareness raising and communication.

(6)  The final report on Financing Natura 2000 by the Expert Working Group on Article 8 of the Habitats Directive, produced in 2001, recommended that, in the short term, a "significant increase should be made in the funding to LIFE-Nature and the operation of this instrument should be simplified and made more readily applicable to supporting the capital investment needs of a wide variety of Natura 2000 sites".

(7)  Article 6 of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme lays down the priority of establishing the Natura 2000 network and providing the technical and financial instruments and measures needed to bring it fully into effect and to enable the species protected by the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives, and sites of Community interest, to be protected outside the areas covered by Natura 2000.

(8)  In its conclusions issued on 11 July 2002, the Council acknowledged that the network management provisions of the Habitats Directive needed to be implemented as soon as possible and that it was necessary to deal with the subject of funding, including the matter of an appropriate framework for Community co-financing, called on the Commission to use its communication on funding for the Natura 2000 network to put forward different options for an appropriate and effective Community financial framework, which would have to be included in the Community's future financial perspectives, and recognised that LIFE-Nature had a key role to play in setting up the Natura 2000 network and preserving biodiversity in the European Union in general.

(9)  The support under this Regulation should therefore be targeted on the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of environment policy and legislation within all European policies as well as its communication and dissemination throughout the European Union.

(10)  The support should be provided through grant agreements and public procurement contracts provided for under Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(7) (the 'Financial Regulation').

(11)  The Court of Auditors" Special Report No 11/2003, which examines the conception, management, and implementation of the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE), and the Council conclusions of 2 March 2004, in which the Council welcomed the report, endorse the view that LIFE has become an important tool of Community environment policy and point out that it is still the only instrument used to support that policy.

(12)  The experience of current and past instruments has highlighted the need to plan and programme on a multi-annual basis and concentrate efforts by prioritising and targeting the areas of activity able to benefit from Community financial aid.

(13)  There is a need to reduce the number of programmes and simplify programming and management through a single, streamlined programme.

(14)  There is however a need to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to monitor, audit and qualitatively assess the activities financed under current programmes following their expiry.

(15)  Attention needs to be paid to ensuring that support under this programme is complementary to other Community funds and instruments.

(16)  In line with the Conclusions of the European Council meetings in Luxembourg (December 1997) and in Thessaloniki (June 2003), candidate countries and the Western Balkan countries in the Stabilisation and Association Process should be considered eligible to participate in Community programmes, in accordance with the conditions established in the relevant bilateral agreements concluded with these countries.

(17)  This Regulation establishes a financial framework for seven years, which is to be the principal point of reference for the budgetary authority, within the meaning of paragraph 36 of the [proposal for the] inter-institutional agreement of [xxx] between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and the improvement of the budgetary procedure [COM(2004)0498].

(18)  The achievement of the objectives of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, agreed at Community level, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States acting individually, and there is hence a justification for Community assistance provided that it does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.


Article 1


A financial instrument for the environment, hereinafter referred to as "LIFE+", is hereby established.

The general objective of LIFE+ shall be to contribute to nature conservation and biodiversity, in particular management of the Natura 2000 network, and to the development and implementation of Community environment policy and of environmental legislation, as a contribution to promoting sustainable development.

LIFE+ will support the implementation of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, and specifically contribute to

   achieving a quality of the environment where the levels of pollution do not give rise to harmful effects on human health and the environment,
   drastically reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in order to stabilise them at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, thereby averting potential economic, social and environmental upheaval,
   protecting, preserving, managing, restoring and facilitating the functioning of natural environments, natural habitats, wild flora and fauna, particularly within the areas protected by the Natura 2000 network, with the aim of halting desertification and the loss of biodiversity,
   protecting Europe's forests as a whole through measures to monitor and avert the contributory factors involved in their deterioration,
   promoting better management of natural resources and waste, and encouraging a shift to more sustainable production and consumption patterns,
   developing strategic approaches to policy development, implementation and integration, including improving environmental governance, providing information, raising awareness and presenting to a greater extent the arguments regarding rights and obligations, costs and benefits and the added value the environment represents for sectoral policies,
   increasing the involvement of European citizens in achieving environmental aims.

Article 2

Scope, Specific Objectives and General Criteria

1.  To support the achievement of the environmental objectives set out in Article 1, LIFE+ will have three components.

"LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity" will:

   contribute to the creation of Natura 2000 sites and to the networking and exchange of related techniques and expertise,
   contribute to the management of Natura 2000 sites, pursuant to the Habitats and Birds Directives, and to maintaining or restoring natural habitats and/or species populations to a favourable conservation status, thereby helping to achieve the objectives set in order to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and beyond,
   help to protect and to assist overall management of the rivers and seabed areas covered by the Natura 2000 network;

"LIFE+ Implementation and Governance" will:

   contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative policy approaches and instruments, making clear their added value for the environment,
   contribute to consolidating the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring and evaluation of environmental policy and legislation,
   support the design and implementation of approaches to, and initiatives for, monitoring and assessment of the state of the environment and the drivers, pressures and responses that impact on it,
   encourage the use of new technologies to facilitate environmental management, the prevention or reduction of natural or man-made disasters, including forest fires, and the treatment of contaminated rivers and seabed areas,
   enable management models to be devised to maintain forest biodiversity, and contribute to conserving the soil, preventing risks, and combating fires in woodland areas,
   support the implementation of Community environment policy, with a particular emphasis on implementation at local and regional level,
   provide support for better environmental governance, including through informal networks of environmental authorities, such as the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), broadening stakeholder involvement, including that of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in European Union policy development and implementation;

"LIFE+ Information and Communication" will:

   disseminate information and raise awareness on environmental issues,
   raise awareness of the benefits of this approach to sectoral policies, making the concept of sustainable development accessible,
   provide support for accompanying measures (information, communication actions and campaigns, conferences, etc) that will bring added value at European level,
   provide the support needed to set up databases, and develop means and services to improve public access to environmental information.

2.  An indicative list of eligible themes and actions is provided in Annex I.

3.  Projects financed by LIFE+ shall satisfy the following general criteria:

   a) they must be of Community interest to the extent that they contribute significantly to the general objective set out in Article 1;
   b) they must be carried out by technically and financially reliable stakeholders;
   c) they must be feasible technically and in terms of time, budget and expediency.

Projects may be treated as a priority if they are based on a multinational approach and this is considered likely to produce more effective results in terms of attaining the objectives, having regard to feasibility and costs.

4.  Funding criteria applicable to projects under LIFE+ Implementation and Governance are laid down in Annex I. Funding criteria for operating and action grants are laid down in Annex III.

Article 3

Types of intervention

1.  Community funding may take the following legal forms:

   grant agreements
   public procurement contracts.

2.  Community grants may be provided through specific forms and agreements such as framework partnership agreements and participation in financial mechanisms and funds. They may take the form of co-funding of operating or action grants. For action grants, the maximum rate of co-financing will be specified in the annual work programmes. Operating grants to bodies pursuing objectives of general European interest may not be subject to the degressivity provisions of the Financial Regulation.

3.  Community grants for Natura 2000 sites will be co-financed. The co-financing of costs relating to site management will be at a rate starting at 50%, up to a maximum of 75%. The specific criteria for sites eligible for a financial contribution higher than 50% will be set out in the multi-annual programmes.

4.  Furthermore, expenditure is foreseen for accompanying measures, through public procurement contracts, in which case Community funds will cover the purchase of services and goods. This will cover, inter alia, expenditure on information and communication, preparation, implementation, monitoring, checking and evaluation of projects, policies, programmes and legislation.

5.  The Commission shall encourage district projects in which groups of several municipalities take part, and interregional or cross-border projects.

Article 4


1.  Funding will be provided in support of multi-annual strategic programmes drawn up by the Commission in consultation with the European Parliament. These programmes shall define the principal objectives, emphasising in particular the need to ensure added value, priority areas of action, type of actions and expected results for Community funding in relation to the objectives set out in Article 1 and would include financial estimates.

2.  Member States shall have the flexibility to tailor and adapt the European Union's strategic planning to their needs and priorities.

3.  Annual work programmes shall be based on the multi-annual strategic programme and shall set out, for a given year, the aims being pursued, the fields of action, the calendar, expected results, implementation modalities, financing amounts and the maximum rate of co-financing.

4.  The multi-annual programmes will be adopted pursuant to Article 251 of the Treaty.

5.  The annual programmes will be adopted according to the procedures set out in Article 12.

6.  If circumstances require, the multi-annual and annual programmes may be amended during the period of their application by means of the same procedures as set out in paragraphs 4 and 5.

Article 5

Financial Procedures and Implementing Measures

1.  The Commission shall implement the Community Assistance in accordance with the Financial Regulation.

2.  The Commission may decide to entrust part of the budget implementation to a managing authority consisting of national public-sector bodies or bodies governed by private law with a public-service mission on the basis of the provisions as laid down in Article 54(2)(c) of the Financial Regulation, according to the selection criteria set out in Annex II. However, the Commission will be responsible for following up, validating and assessing this implementation, and will report thereon in a communication to the European Parliament.

3.  The Commission shall ensure that it develops new jobs created by implementing LIFE+, in particular on the basis of the Lisbon perspective.

Article 6


The LIFE+ programme shall be open to public and/or private bodies, actors and institutions, in particular:

   Owners and managers of Natura 2000 sites
   National, regional and local authorities
   Specialised bodies foreseen in the EU legislation
   International organisations, for actions in the Member States and countries referred to in Article 7
   Non-governmental organisations.

Article 7

Participation of Third Countries

The programmes financed through LIFE+ shall be open to the participation of the following countries, provided that supplementary appropriations are received:

   the EFTA States which are members of the EEA, in accordance with the provisions of the EEA agreement
   the candidate countries which have applied to become Members of the European Union, as well as to the Western Balkan countries included in the Stabilisation and Association process.

Article 8

Complementarity between financial instruments

Operations financed under this Regulation shall not fall within the main scope or the eligibility criteria of, nor receive assistance for the same purpose from, other Community financial instruments. The beneficiaries of this Regulation shall provide the managing authority as referred to in Article 5(2) and the Commission with information about funding received from the EC budget and of ongoing applications for funding. Synergies and complementarity will be sought with other Community instruments.

The Commission shall ensure that appropriate mechanisms are established for ensuring coordination from the planning to the implementation phases between the operational programmes and the use of the LIFE+ Funds, the Structural Funds, the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Fund for Fisheries (EFF).

Article 9

Duration and budgetary resources

1.  This regulation shall be implemented starting on 1 January 2007 and ending on 31 December 2013.

The financial framework for the implementation of this instrument is set at EUR 2,190,000,000, increased by a minimum of 35 % of the Natura 2000 network needs as evaluated by the Member States and the Commission, resulting in a total of EUR 9,540,000,000 for the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013 (seven years), bearing in mind that with other funds the total Natura 2000 needs, evaluated to be EUR 21,000,000,000 for the programming period, shall be covered.

2.  The budgetary resources allocated to the actions provided for in this Regulation shall be entered in the annual appropriations of the general budget of the European Union. The available annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial perspectives.

3.  The indicative breakdown of the financial support between the three components of LIFE+ is given in Annexes I and III.

Article 10


1.  For any action financed by LIFE+, the beneficiary shall submit technical and financial reports to the managing authority as referred to in Article 5(2) on the progress of the work. A final report shall also be submitted within three months of the completion of the action. The Commission shall determine the form and content of the reports in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 12.

2.  Without prejudice to the audits carried out by the Court of Auditors in liaison with the competent national audit bodies or departments pursuant to Article 248 of the Treaty, or any inspection carried out pursuant to Article 279(c) of the Treaty, officials and other staff of the Commission may carry out on-the-spot checks, including sample checks, on actions financed under LIFE+.

3.  Contracts and agreements, as well as agreements with delegated bodies referred to in Article 5(2), resulting from this Regulation shall provide in particular for supervision and financial control by the Commission (or any representative authorized by it) and audits by the Court of Auditors, if necessary on-the-spot.

4.  For a period of five years following the last payment in respect of any action, the beneficiary of financial assistance shall keep available for the Commission all the supporting documents regarding expenditure on the action.

5.  On the basis of the results of the reports and sample checks referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, the Commission shall, if necessary, adjust the scale or the conditions of allocation of the financial assistance originally approved and also the timetable for payments.

6.  The Commission shall take every other step necessary to verify that the actions financed are carried out properly and in compliance with the provisions of this Regulation and the Financial Regulation.

Article 11

Protection of Community financial interests

1.  The Commission shall ensure that, when actions financed under the present Regulation are implemented, the financial interests of the Community are protected by the application of preventive measures against fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities, by effective checks and by the recovery of the amounts unduly paid and, if irregularities are detected , by effective, proportional and dissuasive penalties, in accordance with Council Regulations (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities financial interests(8) and (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities(9), and with Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) (10).

2.  For the Community actions financed under LIFE+, the notion of irregularity referred to in Article 1, paragraph 2 of Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 shall mean any infringement of a provision of Community law or any breach of a contractual obligation resulting from an act or omission by an economic operator, which has, or would have, the effect of prejudicing the general budget of the Communities or budgets managed by them, by an unjustified item of expenditure.

3.  The Commission shall reduce, suspend or recover the amount of financial assistance granted for an action if it finds irregularities, including non-compliance with the provisions of this Regulation or the individual decision or the contract or agreement granting the financial support in question, or if it transpires that, without Commission approval having being sought, the action has been subjected to a change which conflicts with the nature or implementing conditions of the project.

4.  If the time limits have not been observed or if only part of the allocated financial assistance is justified by the progress made with implementing an action, the Commission shall request the beneficiary to submit observations within a specified period. If the beneficiary does not give a satisfactory answer, the Commission may cancel the remaining financial assistance and demand repayment of sums already paid.

5.  Any undue payment shall be repaid to the Commission. Interest shall be added to any sums not repaid in good time under the conditions laid down by the Financial regulation.

Article 12


1.  The Commission shall be assisted by a committee, the LIFE+ Committee, composed of representatives of the Member States and of regions with powers and responsibilities as regards the environment, and chaired by the representative of the Commission. For the purposes of LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, the committee shall be that set up under Article 20 of Directive 92/43/EEC.

2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Articles 5 and 7 of Decision 1999/468/EC shall apply, having regard to the provisions of Article 8 thereof.

The period laid down in Article 5(2) of Decision 1999/468/EC shall be set at three months.

3.  In addition to the general rules established under Articles 7 and 8 of Decision 1999/468/EC, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament the proposals relating to the measures to be taken by the Committee and in particular any measures related to the planning of the distribution and allocation of the annual LIFE+ budget (either concerning the LIFE+ Regulation itself or the annual work programmes).

4.  The Chairman will invite as observers to the Committee meetings experts from civil society groups to discuss the distribution and allocation of the LIFE+ budget (either concerning the LIFE+ Regulation itself or the annual work programmes). The principles and conditions on public access to documents applicable to the Commission shall apply.

Article 13


The multi-annual programmes will be monitored regularly in order to follow the implementation of activities carried out under each strand and to assess their impact.

LIFE+ will be subject to a mid-term and final evaluation in order assess its contribution to the development of Community environmental policy and the use made of the appropriations.

The final evaluation will be carried out not later than one year before the programme ends. Both the final evaluation and the mid-term evaluation shall be submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council.

Article 14

Simplification and Consolidation

1.  With a view to simplification and consolidation, this Regulation repeals and replaces the following instruments: Regulation (EC) No 1404/96 (11), Regulation (EC) No 1655/2000(12), and its extension, Decision No 1411/2001/EC(13), Decision No 466/2002/EC(14) and Regulation (EC) No 2152/2003(15).

2.  Actions started before 31 December 2006 pursuant to the instruments referred to above shall continue to be governed, until their completion by these instruments. The committees provided for in these instruments shall be replaced by the committee referred to in Article 12 of this Regulation. This Regulation will fund any obligatory monitoring and evaluation required under these instruments following their expiry.

Article 15

Rules of implementation of this Regulation

Implementing provisions will be established by the Commission according to the procedure set out in Article 12.

Article 16

Entry into force

This Regulation shall enter into force on the third day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

Done at ,

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President


Indicative Themes and Actions Eligible for Funding

1.  Themes

In view of the objectives laid down in Article 1, funding shall be provided for the conservation of nature and biodiversity, in particular the management of Natura 2000 sites in the European Union, for the promotion of non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection at European level and for support of the implementation of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme priorities, namely:

–   climate change: the European Climate Change Programme (and any successor);

–   nature and bio-diversity: the Natura 2000 network, such as innovative approaches to site management and planning, including the development of market measures and ways of using the network in a manner compatible with its conservation; the monitoring of conservation status; funding for the development and implementation of species action plans; the reversal of the decline in bio-diversity by 2010 and monitoring of forests and environmental inter-actions in the Community; forest fire prevention measures; and urgent conservation measures for habitats and species with the poorest conservation status, as well as species conservation measures and management of wetlands (bogs and mires), coastal, marine and freshwater habitats;

–   environment and health: including the Environment and Health Action plan, the Water Framework Directive, Clean Air for Europe (CAFÉ) and the Marine, Soil, Urban and Pesticides Thematic Strategies;

–   sustainable use of resources: the resources and waste prevention and recycling thematic strategies, sustainable production and consumption strategies;

–   strategic approaches to policy development, implementation and enforcement: including environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment;

   natural heritage: activities within the meaning of Section I, Article 2 of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 16 November 1972;

–   ex-post evaluation of Community environmental policy measures.

2.  Actions

The following types of activities may be covered by LIFE +:

   studies, surveys, modelling and scenario building
   capacity building assistance
   training, workshops and meetings
   support for the IMPEL network
   best practice platforms
   awareness raising campaigns
   information and communication actions
   demonstration of policy approaches and instruments
   nature conservation projects, including purchase of land included in the Natura 2000 network.

3.  Specific criteria for co-financing for projects under LIFE+ Implementation and Governance

Financial support shall be granted in the form of project co-financing.

The percentage of Community financial support may not exceed 50% of the eligible costs of a project. The percentage of Community financial support for accompanying measures may not exceed 100% of such costs.

Proposals will not be considered for financial support unless they satisfy the following criteria:

   a) they offer a means of resolving a frequent problem in the Community or one that is causing serious concern to several Member States;
   b) they are innovative from the point of view of the technology or method used;
   c) they constitute an example and an advance compared with the present situation;
   d) they seek to develop and transfer a form of know-how that can be used in the same or similar situations;
   e) they foster environmental cooperation;
   f) they are based on an environmentally satisfactory cost-benefit relationship.

Where appropriate, proposals should also be considered in terms of their employment implications and on the basis of whether they can facilitate the dissemination and the widest possible application of useful technologies or products that help to protect the environment.


Criteria for Delegation of Budget Implementation Tasks

The Commission shall ensure the implementation of the Community actions provided for by LIFE +.

Budget implementation tasks may be delegated to a managing authority as referred to in Article 5(2).

These competent authorities or agencies ("National Agencies") shall be designated by the Commission in agreement with the Member States, or by the Member State itself, in conformity with the provisions of Articles 54(2)(c) and 56 of the Financial Regulation and of Articles 38 and 39 of Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002 of 23 December 2002(16) laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002.

The Commission shall analyse compliance with the principles of economy, effectiveness and efficiency. Before proceeding to implement the delegation, the Commission shall ensure, by mean of a prior assessment, that delegation of funds to National Agencies is in compliance with sound financial management and enhance the visibility of the Community action. Moreover, the Commission shall request the opinion of the competent committee as provided for in Article 12.

The designation of National Agencies shall be in accordance with the following criteria:

   an organisation established or designated as a National Agency shall have legal personality, and be governed by the law of the Member State concerned;
   National Agencies must have an adequate number of staff, with professional capacities in the field of environment policy;
   National Agencies must have an appropriate infrastructure, in particular as regards informatics and communications;
   National Agencies must operate in an administrative context which enables them to carry out their tasks satisfactorily and to avoid conflicts of interest;
   National Agencies must be in a position to apply the financial management rules and contractual conditions laid down at Community level;
   National Agencies must offer adequate financial guarantees, issued preferably by a public authority, and their management capacity must be appropriate to the level of Community funds they will be called upon to manage.

The Commission shall conclude an agreement with each National Agency, in accordance with Article 41 of the Implementing Rules of the Financial Regulation, setting out detailed provisions covering, inter alia, the definition of the tasks, the rules on reporting, the demarcation of responsibilities and the arrangements for control. National Agencies shall respect the principles of transparency, equality of treatment and shall avoid double-funding with other sources of Community funds, and shall monitor projects and recover any funds due for reimbursement by beneficiaries.

Moreover, the Commission shall certify that each Member State takes the necessary steps to ensure the appropriate audit and financial oversight of the National Agency, providing the Commission, before the National Agency starts operations, with the necessary assurances as to the existence, relevance and proper operation of such Agency, in accordance with the rules of sound financial management.

National Agencies shall be responsible for the funds not recovered, in the event of irregularity, negligence or fraud imputable to the National Agency.

The Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, shall ensure the transition between the actions carried out within the context of the preceding programmes in the fields of environment and those to be implemented under LIFE+.


Promotion of non-governmental organisations primarily active in environmental protection

LIFE + shall co-fund operating or action grants for NGOs which are primarily active in protecting and enhancing the environment at European level.

In order to qualify for a grant, an NGO shall have the following characteristics:

   it must be an independent and non-profit-making legal person primarily active in protecting and enhancing the environment for the common good and with a view to achieving sustainable development;
   it must be active at European level, either alone or in the form of a association with a structure (membership base) and activities covering at least three European countries;
   it must be involved in the development and implementation of EU policy and legislation.

(1) OJ C
(2) OJ C
(3) Position of the European Parliament of 7 July 2005.
(4) OJ L 242, 10.9.2002, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1, as last amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 807/2003 (OJ L 122, 16.5.2003, p. 36).
(6) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7, as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 (OJ L 284, 31.10.2003, p. 1).
(7) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 312, 23.12.1995, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 292, 15.11.1996, p. 2.
(10) OJ L 136, 31.5.1999, p. 1.
(11) Council Regulation (EC) No 1404/96 of 15 July 1996 amending Regulation (EEC) No 1973/92 establishing a financial instrument for the environment (Life) (OJ L 181, 20.7.1996, p. 1).
(12) Regulation (EC) No 1655/2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 July 2000 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE) (OJ L 192, 28.7.2000, p. 1), as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1682/2004 (OJ L 308, 5.10.2004, p. 1).
(13) Decision No 1411/2001/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on a Community Framework for cooperation to promote sustainable urban development (OJ L 191, 13.7.2001, p. 1), as amended by Decision No 786/2004/EC (OJ L 138, 30.4.2004, p. 7).
(14) Decision No 466/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 1 March 2002 laying down a Community action programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection (OJ L 75, 16.3.2002, p. 1), as amended by Decision No 786/2004/EC.
(15) Regulation (EC) No 2152/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 concerning monitoring of forests and environmental interactions in the Community (Forest Focus) (OJ L 324, 11.12.2003, p. 1), as amended by Regulation (EC) No 788/2004 (OJ L 138, 30.4.2004, p. 17).
(16) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 1.

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