21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/156


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013

(2018/C 461/14)

Rapporteur:

Marco DUS (IT/PES), Member of Vittorio Veneto Municipal Council, Treviso

Reference document:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013

COM(2018) 385 final — 2018/0209(COD)

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Recital 6

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(6)

For achieving the overarching objectives, the implementation of the Circular economy package (1), the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework (2), (3), (4), Union nature legislation (5), as well as of related policies (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), is of particular importance.

(6)

For achieving the overarching objectives, the implementation of the Circular economy package (1), the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework (2), (3), (4), the seventh General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 and its possible successor  (5) , Union nature legislation (6), as well as of related policies (7) ,  (8) ,  (9) ,  (10) ,  (11) ,  (12) ,  (13) ,  (14) ,  (15) is of particular importance.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 2

Recital 7

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR Amendment

(7)

Complying with the Union’s commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change requires the transformation of the Union into an energy efficient, low carbon and climate resilient society. This in turn requires actions, with a special focus on sectors that contribute most to the current levels of CO2 output and pollution, contributing to the implementation of the 2030 energy and climate policy framework and the Member States’ Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans and preparations for the Union’s mid-century and long-term climate and energy strategy. The Programme should also include measures contributing to the implementation of the Union’s climate adaptation policy to decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change.

(7)

Complying with the Union’s commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change requires the transformation of the Union into an energy efficient, low carbon and climate resilient society. This in turn requires actions, with a special focus on sectors that contribute most to the current levels of CO2 output and pollution, contributing to the implementation of the 2030 energy and climate policy framework and the Member States’ Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans and preparations for the Union’s mid-century and long-term climate and energy strategy. The Programme should also include measures contributing to the implementation of the Union’s climate adaptation policy to decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change.

Reason

The word resilient is considered more appropriate in this context as this refers to adaptation. [Translator’s note: this does not affect the English version, which already uses the term resilient.]

Amendment 3

Recital 8

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(8)

The transition to clean energy is an essential contribution to the mitigation of climate change with co-benefits for the environment. Actions for capacity building supporting the clean energy transition, funded until 2020 under Horizon 2020, should be integrated in the Programme since their objective is not to fund excellence and generate innovation, but to facilitate the uptake of already available technology that will contribute to climate mitigation. The inclusion of these capacity building activities into the Programme offers potential for synergies between the sub-programmes and increases the overall coherence of Union funding. Therefore, data should be collected and disseminated on the uptake of existing research and innovation solutions in the LIFE projects, including from the Horizon Europe programme and its predecessors.

(8)

The transition to clean energy is an essential contribution to the mitigation of climate change with co-benefits for the environment. Actions for capacity building supporting the clean energy transition, funded until 2020 under Horizon 2020, should be integrated in the Programme , retaining the same co-financing coefficient, since their objective is not to fund excellence and generate innovation, but to facilitate the uptake of already available technology that will contribute to climate mitigation. The inclusion of these capacity building activities into the Programme offers potential for synergies between the sub-programmes and increases the overall coherence of Union funding. Therefore, data should be collected and disseminated on the uptake of existing research and innovation solutions in the LIFE projects, including from the Horizon Europe programme and its predecessors.

Reason

The co-financing rate for regions and cities is 100 % under Horizon 2020.

Amendment 4

Recital 9

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(9)

The impact assessments of the Clean Energy legislation estimate that the delivery of the Union’s 2030 energy targets will require additional investments of EUR 177 billion annually in the period 2021-2030. The biggest gaps relate to the investments in buildings decarbonisation (energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy sources), where capital needs to be channelled towards projects of highly distributed nature. One of the objectives of the Clean Energy Transition sub-programme is to build capacity for projects development and aggregation, thereby also helping to absorb funds from the European Structural and Investment Funds and catalyse investments in clean energy also using the financial instruments provided under InvestEU.

(9)

The impact assessments of the Clean Energy legislation estimate that the delivery of the Union’s 2030 energy targets will require additional investments of EUR 177 billion annually in the period 2021-2030. The biggest gaps relate to the investments in buildings decarbonisation (energy efficiency and decentralised renewable energy sources for all types of energy consumption and, in particular, consumption for heating and air conditioning ), where capital needs to be channelled towards projects of highly distributed nature , for example by promoting pilot projects located in small conurbations and settlements and isolated housing in rural areas . One of the objectives of the Clean Energy Transition sub-programme is to build capacity for projects development and aggregation, thereby also helping to absorb funds from the European Structural and Investment Funds and catalyse investments in clean energy also using the financial instruments provided under InvestEU.

Reason

Decarbonisation of the buildings sector is a crucial step to achieving the EU’s climate and energy objectives and, consequently, to successfully meeting the Paris Agreement objectives. It is however important to focus greater attention on energy consumption for heating and air conditioning, as it accounts for a major part of European energy consumption.

Amendment 5

Recital 12

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(12)

The Union’s most recent Environmental Implementation Review package (1) indicates that significant progress is required to accelerate implementation of the Union environment acquis and enhance the integration of environmental and climate objectives into other policies. The Programme should therefore act as a catalyst to achieve the required progress through developing, testing and replicating new approaches; supporting policy development, monitoring and review; enhancing stakeholder involvement; mobilising investments across Union investment programmes or other financial sources and supporting actions to overcome the various obstacles to the effective implementation of key plans required by environment legislation.

(12)

The Union’s most recent Environmental Implementation Review package (1) indicates that significant progress is required to accelerate implementation of the Union environment acquis and enhance the integration of environmental and climate objectives into other policies. The Programme should therefore act as a catalyst to achieve the required progress through developing, testing and replicating new approaches; supporting policy development, evaluation, monitoring and review; promoting greater awareness and communication; developing good governance; enhancing stakeholder involvement to boost resilience against global change ; mobilising investments across Union investment programmes or other financial sources and supporting actions to overcome the various obstacles to the effective implementation of key plans required by environment legislation.

Reason

Improved governance, in particular through awareness raising and stakeholder involvement, is essential to deliver environmental objectives. These are priorities explicitly set out in the previous LIFE programme and the Committee of the Regions considers they should be kept.

Amendment 6

Recital 15

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(15)

The voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas (BEST) promotes the conservation of biodiversity, including marine biodiversity, and sustainable use of ecosystem services, including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation, in the Union’s Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories. BEST has helped to raise awareness for the ecological importance of the Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories for conserving global biodiversity. In their Ministerial Declarations in 2017 and 2018, Overseas Countries and Territories have expressed their appreciation for this small grant scheme for biodiversity. It is appropriate to allow the Programme to continue financing small grants for biodiversity in both the Outermost Regions and the Overseas Countries and Territories.

(15)

The voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas (BEST) promotes the conservation of biodiversity, including marine biodiversity, and sustainable use of ecosystem services, including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation, in the Union’s Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories. BEST has helped to raise awareness for the ecological importance of the Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories for conserving global biodiversity. In their Ministerial Declarations in 2017 and 2018, Overseas Countries and Territories have expressed their appreciation for this small grant scheme for biodiversity. It is appropriate to allow the Programme to continue financing small grants for biodiversity in both the Outermost Regions and the Overseas Countries and Territories , in line with the objectives and measures envisaged under a stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the European Union’s outermost regions  (1) .

Reason

To clarify the text.

Amendment 7

Recital 17

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(17)

The Union’s long-term objective for air policy is to achieve levels of air quality that do not cause significant negative impacts on and risks to human health. Public awareness about air pollution is high and citizens expect authorities to act. Directive (EU) 2016/2284 of the European Parliament and of the Council stresses the role Union funding can play in achieving clean air objectives. Therefore, the Programme should support projects, including strategic integrated projects, which have the potential to leverage public and private funds, to be showcases of good practice and catalysts for the implementation of air quality plans and legislation at local, regional, multi-regional, national and trans-national level.

(17)

The Union’s long-term objective for air policy is to achieve levels of air quality that do not cause significant negative impacts on and risks to human health. Public awareness about air pollution is high and citizens expect authorities to act. Directive (EU) 2016/2284 of the European Parliament and of the Council stresses the role Union funding can play in achieving clean air objectives. Therefore, the Programme should support projects, including strategic integrated projects, which have the potential to leverage public and private funds, to be showcases of good practice and catalysts for the implementation of air quality plans and legislation at local, regional, multi-regional, national and trans-national level. These efforts to improve air quality should be consistent with greenhouse gas reduction requirements and with the long-term need to decarbonise the entire European economy, progressively replacing fossil fuel-based infrastructure with infrastructure based on renewable sources, where technically and economically possible.

Reason

Air quality is directly linked to fossil fuel combustion for transport, heating and air conditioning and, generally, for generating electricity. Decarbonising these sectors therefore has a direct impact on air quality and public health. The LIFE programme should consider the potential for reducing emissions of gaseous pollutants in these kinds of projects. Where an alternative based on a renewable energy source exists, the LIFE programme should promote this initiative rather than replacing the replacement of appliances emitting high levels of greenhouse gas with equipment that is more efficient but is still based on fossil energy, provided the investment is also cost-effective.

Amendment 8

New recital 17a after recital 17

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

(17a)

Particular attention should be focused on promoting a shift away from sources of air pollution, in particular domestic heating appliances and power stations based on the most polluting fossil fuels. In order to tackle the problem of air pollution, efforts should focus on a transition to renewable and other clean energy sources, encouraging a medium/long-term view.

Reason

Carbon-based domestic heating is a major source of air pollution in the EU and has a harmful impact on public health. Where technically and financially possible, a shift to renewable energy and other clean energy sources should be facilitated, in keeping with the decarbonisation targets for the buildings sector, as set out in the Buildings Energy Performance Directive.

Amendment 9

Recital 20

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(20)

The improvement of governance on environmental, climate change and related clean energy transition matters requires involvement of civil society by raising public awareness, consumer engagement, and broadening of stakeholder involvement, including non-governmental organisations, in consultation on and implementation of related policies.

(20)

The improvement of governance on environmental, climate change and related clean energy transition matters requires involvement of civil society by raising public awareness , partly by means of a communication strategy that reflects the new media and social networks and boosts consumer engagement, and broadening of stakeholder involvement, including non-governmental organisations, in consultation on and implementation of related policies. Moreover, engagement and co-responsibility of local and regional authorities — in accordance with the acknowledgement granted to cities, regions and local authorities by the Conference of the Parties in Paris (the Paris Agreement) — as the level of government closest to citizens, in keeping with the subsidiarity principle — can contribute to achieving substantial environment-, energy- and climate-related results, as demonstrated by the growing success of the Covenant of Mayors initiative and other municipal climate and environmental networks.

Reason

It is important to highlight the need for modern communication and to mention the Covenant of Mayors, which is now a highly successful, worldwide initiative to engage and empower the level of government closest to citizens.

Amendment 10

Recital 22

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(22)

The Programme should prepare and support market players for the shift towards a clean, circular, energy-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy by testing new business opportunities, upgrading professional skills, facilitating consumers’ access to sustainable products and services, engaging and empowering influencers and testing novel methods to adapt the existing processes and business landscape. To support a broader market uptake of sustainable solutions, general public acceptance and consumer engagement should be promoted.

(22)

The Programme should prepare and support market players for the shift towards a clean, circular, energy-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy by testing new business opportunities, upgrading professional skills, facilitating consumers’ access to sustainable products and services, engaging and empowering influencers and testing novel methods to adapt the existing processes and business landscape. To support a broader market uptake of sustainable solutions, particularly the deployment of innovative, sustainable and renewable energy technologies, general awareness and dissemination of these technologies should be promoted to encourage general public acceptance and consumer engagement should be promoted.

Reason

As a result of technological developments, market developments and (also) public support, the cost of installing renewable energy systems has fallen considerably over the last 10 years. We should continue along this path so as to allow Europe’s energy potential to be fully tapped, exploiting so far little-used alternative energy sources (such as marine or geothermal energy) and building up the EU’s energy independence from third countries.

Amendment 11

New Recital 24a after Recital 24

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

(24a)

Given the increased incidence of natural disasters caused by climate change across the EU and the inadequacy of current prevention instruments, the programme will support initiatives to strengthen climate-change resilience strategies in order to respond to related natural disasters.

Reason

Given the increased incidence of natural disasters and the inadequacy of the tools for preventing them, the LIFE Programme has an essential contribution to make to supporting initiatives to strengthen climate-change resilience strategies so as to respond to disasters.

Amendment 12

Recital 25

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(25)

In the implementation of the Programme due consideration should be given to the strategy for outermost regions in view of Article 349 TFEU and the specific needs and vulnerabilities of these regions. Union policies other than environmental, climate and relevant clean energy transition policies should also be taken into account.

(25)

In the implementation of the Programme due consideration should be given to the strategy for outermost regions in view of Article 349 TFEU and the specific needs and vulnerabilities of these regions. Union policies other than environmental, climate , circular economy and relevant clean energy transition policies should also be taken into account.

Funding for this strategy should be integrated into the programme in a specific and distinct manner.

Reason

This specific reference to the increased risks from global and climate change faced by the ORs is needed, due to their particular vulnerability and dependence on mainland Europe.

Amendment 13

New recital 26a after recital 26

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

(26a)

The European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (ECTC) are eligible and can serve as a legal instrument to implement the LIFE programme. The EGTCs have a structure comparable to that of consortia and most operate on a transnational basis. As a result of these characteristics, they can provide centralised management of project management at operational and financial level.

Reason

The use of EGTCs needs to be promoted, and their eligibility as consortia to be ensured.

Amendment 14

Recital 31

Commission text

CoR amendment

The types of financing and the methods of implementation should be chosen on the basis of their ability to achieve the specific objectives of the actions and to deliver results, taking into account, in particular, the costs of controls, the administrative burden, and the expected risk of non-compliance. As regards grants, this should include consideration of the use of lump sums, flat rates and scales of unit costs.

The types of financing and the methods of implementation should be chosen on the basis of their ability to achieve the specific objectives of the actions and to deliver results, taking into account, in particular, the costs of controls, the administrative burden, and the expected risk of non-compliance. As regards grants, this should include consideration of the use of lump sums, flat rates and scales of unit costs to cover, among other things, costs for personnel, in order to support a simplification of administrative activities linked to the participation in projects.

Reason

This amendment highlights the importance of being able to support the costs of staff as one important element for successful project participation, in particular for smaller organisations.

Amendment 15

Article 3(1)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(1)   The general objective of the Programme is to contribute to the shift towards a clean, circular, energy-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, including through the transition to clean energy, to the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment and to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

(1)   The general objective of the Programme is to contribute to the shift towards a clean, circular, energy-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, including through the transition to clean energy, to the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment and to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

Reason

The word resilient is considered more appropriate in this context as this refers to adaptation. [Translator’s note: this does not affect the English version, which already uses the term resilient.]

Amendment 16

Article 3(2)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(2)   The Programme has the following specific objectives:

(2)   The Programme has the following specific objectives:

(a)

to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques and approaches for reaching the objectives of the Union legislation and policy on environment and climate action, including the transition to clean energy, and to contribute to the application of best practice in relation to nature and biodiversity;

(a)

to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques and approaches for reaching the objectives of the Union legislation and policy on environment and climate action, including the transition to clean energy, and to contribute to the application of best practice in relation to nature and biodiversity;

(b)

to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the relevant Union legislation and policy, including by improving governance through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;

(b)

to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the relevant Union legislation and policy, including by improving governance through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;

(c)

to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing the relevant Union legislation and policy by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

(c)

to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing the relevant Union legislation and policy by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance;

 

(d)

to strengthen the synergies between climate-change resilience strategies and mitigating the risk of related natural disasters by introducing technical measures such as a clear method of natural disaster risk analysis .

Reason

Given the increased incidence of natural disasters and the inadequacy of the current tools for preventing them, the LIFE Programme has an essential contribution to make to supporting solutions aimed at strengthening climate-change resilience strategies so as to respond to disasters.

Amendment 17

Article 5

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(1)   The financial envelope for the implementation of the Programme for the period 2021-2027 shall be EUR  5 450  000 000 in current prices.

(1)   The financial envelope for the implementation of the Programme for the period 2021-2027 shall be EUR  6 780  000 000 in current prices.

(2)   The indicative distribution of the amount referred to in paragraph 1 shall be:

(2)   The indicative distribution of the amount referred to in paragraph 1 shall be:

 

EUR 3 500 000 000 for the field Environment, of which

(a)

EUR 4 165 000 000 for the field Environment, of which

 

EUR 2 150 000 000 for the sub-programme Nature and Biodiversity and

 

(1)

EUR 2 315 000 000 for the sub-programme Nature and Biodiversity and

 

EUR 1 350 000 000 for the sub-programme Circular Economy and Quality of Life;

 

(2)

EUR 1 850 000 000 for the sub-programme Circular Economy and Quality of Life;

 

EUR 1 950 000 000 for the field Climate Action, of which

(b)

EUR 2 615 000 000 for the field Climate Action, of which

 

EUR 950 000 000 for the sub-programme Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation and

 

(1)

EUR 1 450 000 000 for the sub-programme Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation and

 

EUR 1 000 000 000 for the sub-programme Clean Energy Transition.

 

(2)

EUR 1 165 000 000 for the sub-programme Clean Energy Transition.

(3)   The amounts referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be without prejudice to provisions on flexibility set out in Regulation (EU) xx/xx of the European Parliament

(3)   The amounts referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be without prejudice to provisions on flexibility set out in Regulation (EU) xx/xx of the European Parliament

Reason

The new overall amount for the LIFE programme is based on a 1,7 fold increase, as announced by the European Commission, but without the transfer of the previously Horizon 2020-funded measure for energy transition, with special focus on the sub-programme Climate Change Mitigation and Circular economy

Amendment 18

Article 5(3)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(3)   The amounts referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be without prejudice to provisions on flexibility set out in Regulation (EU) xx/xx of the European Parliament and of the Council [the new Multiannual Financial Framework Regulation] and the Financial Regulation.

(3)   The amounts referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be without prejudice to provisions on flexibility set out in Regulation (EU) xx/xx of the European Parliament and of the Council [the new Multiannual Financial Framework Regulation] and the Financial Regulation.

 

(3a)     The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 21 in order to increase the percentage referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article by a maximum of 10 %, provided that the total funds requested over two consecutive years by way of proposals that fall under the priority area of Nature and Biodiversity and that meet minimum quality requirements exceed by more than 20 % the corresponding amount calculated for the two years preceding those years.

Reason

Self-explanatory. To restore the flexibility clause for the Nature and Biodiversity sub-programme, as it currently stands in the 2014-2020 LIFE programme.

Amendment 19

Article 5(5)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(5)   The Programme may finance activities implemented by the Commission in support of the preparation, implementation and mainstreaming of Union environmental, climate or relevant clean energy transition legislation and policies for the purpose of achieving the objectives set out in Article 3. Such activities may include:

(5)   The Programme may finance activities implemented by the Commission in support of the preparation, implementation and mainstreaming of Union environmental, climate or relevant clean energy transition legislation and policies for the purpose of achieving the objectives set out in Article 3. Such activities may include:

(a)

information and communication, including awareness raising campaigns. Financial resources allocated to communication activities pursuant to this Regulation shall also cover corporate communication regarding the political priorities of the Union, as well as regarding the implementation and transposition status of Union environmental, climate or relevant clean energy legislation;

(a)

information and communication, including awareness raising campaigns. Financial resources allocated to communication activities pursuant to this Regulation shall also cover corporate communication regarding the political priorities of the Union, as well as regarding the implementation and transposition status of Union environmental, climate or relevant clean energy legislation;

(b)

studies, surveys, modelling and scenario building;

(b)

studies, surveys, modelling and scenario building;

(c)

preparation, implementation, monitoring, checking and evaluation of projects not funded by the Programme, policies, programmes and legislation;

(c)

preparation, implementation, monitoring, checking and evaluation of projects not funded by the Programme, implementing actions and actions to improve governance, policies, programmes and legislation;

(d)

workshops, conferences and meetings;

(d)

workshops, conferences and meetings;

(e)

networking and best-practice platforms;

(e)

networking and best-practice platforms;

(f)

other activities.

(f)

other activities.

Reason

Self-explanatory.

Amendment 20

Article 11(5)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(5)   Legal entities participating in consortia of at least three independent entities, established in different Member States or overseas countries or territories linked to those states or third countries associated to the Programme or other third countries, are eligible.

(5)   Legal entities participating in consortia of at least three independent entities, established in different Member States or overseas countries or territories linked to those states or third countries associated to the Programme or other third countries, are eligible.

 

(5a)     The European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) shall be treated as consortia, established in different Member States or overseas countries or territories linked to those states.

Reason

The use of EGTCs needs to be promoted, and their eligibility as consortia to be ensured.

Amendment 21

Article 13(a)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(a)

projects financed by the Programme shall avoid undermining environmental, climate or relevant clean energy objectives of the Programme and, where possible, shall promote the use of green public procurement;

(a)

projects financed by the Programme shall contribute to meeting at least one of the environmental, climate , circular economy transition or sustainable energy objectives of the Programme , without undermining the other objectives and, where possible, shall promote the use of green public procurement;

Reason

The LIFE programme should not only ‘avoid undermining’ the EU’s environmental, climate and energy objectives, but should actively contribute to meeting them. In addition, the wording on ‘relevant clean energy’ seems excessively vague.

Amendment 22

Article 13(f)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(f)

where appropriate, special regard shall be given to projects in geographical areas with specific needs or vulnerabilities, such as areas with specific environmental challenges or natural constraints, trans-border areas or outermost regions.

(f)

where appropriate, special regard shall be given to projects in geographical areas with specific needs or vulnerabilities, such as areas with specific environmental challenges (e.g. areas with acknowledged air quality problems or those impacted by climate change) or natural constraints, cross-border areas (projects in which transnational cooperation is crucial to ensuring that the environment is protected and climate objectives achieved) or regions exposed to severe risks due to global and climate change, such as the outermost regions.

Reason

It would be helpful to focus greater attention on transnational cooperation and the air quality problem, risks associated with global and climate change and the particular vulnerability of the outermost regions. The problems associated with climate change often concern geographical areas with special needs or weaknesses, such as islands, coastal towns and cities, and mountain areas.

[Translator’s note: the amendment of ‘trans-border’ to ‘cross-border’ affects the English version only]

Amendment 23

New article following Article 13

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

 

Eligibility of project costs relating to VAT and staff

(1)     Conditions for the eligibility of costs are laid down in Article 126 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012. Such costs shall include VAT and staff costs.

The Commission shall provide an overview, in the mid-term and ex-post evaluations of the LIFE Programme, of VAT reimbursements per Member State that project beneficiaries under the LIFE Programme have requested at the final payment stage.

(2)     Recoverable VAT is not eligible whether or not the applicant elects to recover. VAT does not constitute eligible expenditure except where it is genuinely and definitively borne by the final beneficiary. VAT which is recoverable, by whatever means, cannot be considered eligible, even if it is not actually recovered by the final beneficiary or individual recipient. The public or private status of the final beneficiary or the individual recipient is not taken into account for the determination whether VAT constitutes eligible expenditure in application of the provisions of this rule.

(3)     Non-recoverable VAT can be claimed as an eligible cost provided their claim is substantiated by appropriate evidence from the organisations’ auditors or accountants. VAT which is not recoverable by the final beneficiary or individual recipient by virtue of the application of specific national rules will only constitute eligible expenditure where such rules are in full compliance with Directive 2006/112/EC on VAT.

Reason

The amendment reproduces a previous CoR opinion (rapporteur: Ms Twitchen, ENVI-V/018). VAT was considered to act as a deterrent to participation in earlier versions of the LIFE programme.

Amendment 24

Article 21(4)

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

(4)   Before adopting a delegated act, the Commission shall consult experts designated by each Member State in accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making.

(4)   Before adopting a delegated act, the Commission shall consult experts designated by each Member State in accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making and, if appropriate, the Commission shall consult the local and regional authorities directly and launch public consultations .

Reason

Local and regional authorities should be specifically mentioned.

Amendment 25

A new Article 21a after Article 21

Text proposed by the Commission

CoR amendment

 

 

Committee Procedure

(1)     The Commission shall be assisted by the Committee for the LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.

(2)     Where reference is made to this paragraph, Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 shall apply.

Where the committee delivers no opinion, the Commission shall not adopt the draft implementing act and the third subparagraph of Article 5(4) of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 shall apply.

Reason

The amendment reproduces Article 30 of the current regulation on the LIFE programme (Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013), in order to ensure greater participation in and monitoring of implementation of the LIFE programme.

II.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

General comments

1.

welcomes the proposal by the European Commission which, with its unreserved reconfirmation of the LIFE programme for the next MFF, explicitly acknowledges its success and the European added value generated thus far;

2.

welcomes the fact that the proposal for a regulation makes specific reference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and that it helps to ensure that climate objectives will account for 25 % of the MFF budget. The Committee of the Regions urges that all the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals be explicitly recognised and upheld in the EU budget;

3.

underlines the substantial direct impact for local and regional authorities that the LIFE programme has already demonstrated by preserving biodiversity, enhancing the quality of the environment and thus helping to reduce and mitigate the drastic effects of climate change, a struggle where local and regional authorities are in the front line;

4.

approves the proposal to increase the budget for the LIFE programme under the MFF by 60 %. It points out, however, that this budget increase corresponds in part to an extension of areas eligible for funding under the future LIFE programme (such as the new Clean Energy Transition sub-programme that will fund projects that come under the Horizon 2020 programme in the current MFF); therefore, the Committee is obliged to highlight that the increase of budget proposed by the European Commission is in reality far away from the 60 % announced by the European Commission, and hopes a further increase could be considered, compatible with the general MFF proposal;

5.

in the light of the proposed cuts to the ERDF and EAFRD budgets, is concerned that the funds available to local and regional authorities for projects linked to climate and energy transition policies may suffer an overall reduction in the forthcoming 2021-2027 MFF;

6.

regrets the absence of any reference to the LIFE Committee in the European Commission’s proposal. It considers that the LIFE Committee should not abolished: rather, it should promote the more effective involvement of local and regional authorities in the programme;

7.

welcomes the decision to emphasise project quality, avoiding binding, geographically-determined advance allocations (while promoting fair and balanced distribution between projects), and supports the attempt to simplify the programme regulation. The Committee however warns of the risk of relegating too many aspects to second-level delegated acts and, in this regard, demands that the levels of co-financing of the local and regional authorities are not decreased in future calls for proposals;

8.

considers it essential to enhance the LIFE programme by ensuring that successful projects can be replicated, and using it as a catalyst to attract further funding (private and public, starting with the European Regional Development Fund). It calls on the Commission to put in place appropriate arrangements for information, dissemination and technical assistance in order to encourage and support participation by local and regional authorities in the programme. To this end, it also recommends promoting networking schemes between the national contact points, in order to facilitate exchange of best practices and transnational cooperation;

9.

underlines the focus and importance of the Natura 2000 network for the LIFE programme and considers that the support to this network has to remain central for the sub-programme ‘Nature and biodiversity’;

10.

understands and accepts the need to facilitate the mobilisation of private capital, not least for environmental investment, but urges the Commission to provide further clarification on the ‘blending operations’ and on the results of the pilot projects funded through financial instruments under the 2014-2020 LIFE programme.

Brussels, 9 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ


(1)  COM(2015) 614 final, 2.12.2015

(2)  Climate and Energy Policy Framework, COM(2014)15, 22.1.2014.

(3)  EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, COM(2013)216, 16.4.2013.

(4)  Clean Energy for all Europeans package, COM(2016) 860, 30.11.2016.

(5)  Action Plan for nature, people and the economy, COM(2017) 198, 27.4.2017.

(6)  Clean Air Programme for Europe, COM(2013) 918.

(7)  Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1).

(8)  Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, COM(2006) 231.

(9)  Low Emission Mobility Strategy, COM(2016) 501 final.

(10)  Action Plan on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure under Article 10(6) of Directive 2014/94/EU, 8.11.2017.

(1)  COM(2015) 614 final, 2.12.2015

(2)  Climate and Energy Policy Framework, COM(2014)15, 22.1.2014.

(3)  EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, COM(2013)216, 16.4.2013.

(4)  Clean Energy for all Europeans package, COM(2016) 860, 30.11.2016.

(5)   Decision No 1386/2013/EU

(6)  Action Plan for nature, people and the economy, COM(2017)198, 27.4.2017.

(7)  Clean Air Programme for Europe, COM(2013) 918.

(8)  Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1).

(9)  Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, COM(2006) 231.

(10)  Low Emission Mobility Strategy, COM(2016) 501 final.

(11)  Action Plan on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure under Article 10(6) of Directive 2014/94/EU, 8.11.2017.

(12)   Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise.

(13)   A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, COM(2018) 28 final.

(14)   Directive 2007/60/EC on the assessment and management of flood risks.

(15)   Communication Green Infrastructure (GI) — Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital, COM(2013) 249 final.

(1)  Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — The EU Environmental Implementation Review: Common challenges and how to combine efforts to deliver better results (COM(2017) 63 final of 3 February 2017).

(1)  Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — The EU Environmental Implementation Review: Common challenges and how to combine efforts to deliver better results (COM(2017) 63 final of 3 February 2017).

(1)   As set out in COM(2017) 623 final, ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’.