An open letter, which included signatures from trade unions, business groups, land users and NGOs, has called for the share of LIFE in the EU budget to be raised from the current 0.23% to at least 1%.

The letter said: “In face of the mounting environmental challenges, the current LIFE funding represents a tiny proportion of the overall EU budget. To realise its full potential for the benefit of all, the LIFE fund must be significantly increased.”

However, according to the letter, LIFE has been cost-effective and supportive in implementing EU environmental law, which it claimed has led to job creation.

“The misallocation of resources which is often a characteristic of other EU funds is not an issue in the case of LIFE. The fund is an excellent example of EU action that delivers visible added value to citizens,” it said.

Despite this, the letter claimed that the EU had to go further, saying the requested increase would translate to €3.4 per EU citizen head annually over the 2014-2020 period instead of the €1 the European Commission proposes.

European Environmental Bureau’s secretary general Jeremy Wates said: “Raising the bar for LIFE to form 1% of the EU budget is simply a matter of the EU putting its money where its mouth is. Only by safeguarding Europe’s natural capital will Europe have a chance to get out of the crisis sustainably. This should be an investment priority for the EU.”

Conor McGlone

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