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IGOR IDARETA INTERVIEW

LIFE: 5.4 billion euros, of which 1 billion will fund the new clean energy line.

LIFE

LIFE, the European Union's flagship environmental programme, is about to get started. Find out what's new in this interview with our colleague and expert Igor Idareta.

The European Union’s flagship programme, LIFE, is about to kick off. With a significant increase in its budget and a firm commitment to clean energy, June promises to be the month that marks the start of the LIFE call for the period 2021-2027.

At ZABALA Innovation, we have interviewed our colleague, Igor Idareta, leader of the team responsible for European programmes related to sustainability, energy and mobility. In this interview, Igor explains the novelties of the new call, as well as some key issues to keep in mind.

– A new LIFE call for proposals is about to be launched, with a new budget that, once again, has increased, this time by more than 1,900 million euros. This new call for proposals is quite a challenge. What new features are we going to find?

More specifically, the budget is 60% more than the previous one. A total of 5,400 million euros, of which 1,000 million will go to the new line of Transition to clean energy. On the other hand, regarding the regulations, they are very similar to those of the previous call; however, as a novelty, it should be noted that the application platform will be unified with that of the rest of the European programmes: Funding & Tender Opportunities.

Another notable new feature is that a new type of project will be funded up to 95%, compared to the usual 60%. This includes projects aimed at breaking down market barriers for the implementation of clean technologies.

Similarly, two trends are reinforced. On the one hand, the importance of so-called close-to-market projects, with a clear focus on generating more sustainable products and services. On the other hand, the search for more global projects, involving more actors, in which it is increasingly important to include non-technological agents, society and citizens, is also being reinforced.

– In this sense, it seems that the EU’s objective of achieving a Green Europe is almost a reality. What is LIFE’s place within the new Multiannual Financial Framework?

LIFE is the only EU financial instrument that is 100% dedicated to the environment. It is one of the 15 EU flagship programmes that will be at the heart of all EU policies under the European Green Pact in the upcoming years.

– Is the Clean Energy Transition sub-programme particularly relevant in this call? If so, why?

This area was financed within Horizon 2020 and is being changed because the philosophy of these projects fits better in a programme such as LIFE, where technological and non-technological barriers allow us to delve into other key aspects so that the implementation and subsequent replication are real and effective, and thus achieve a greater impact on citizens.

– What are the highlights of the other subprogrammes?

There is the updating of the circular economy sub-programme, which was previously more linked to watertight concepts such as waste, recycling and water. Now it is adapted to the more global visions of circularity and sustainability of value chains.

The realignment of the other 3 sub-programmes to the new policy initiatives arising from the European Green Pact will be very important. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the new Biodiversity 2030 strategy; the Circular Economy Action Plan; the European Climate Law (2030 climate target); the Zero Pollution Action Plan; and the New Farm to Table Strategy.

– Why is Spain one of the countries that attracts the most LIFE funds?

Spain is one of the European countries with the richest biodiversity, both in terms of variety and quantity. We also lead the European rankings related to protected areas. On the other hand, the ecosystem of technological and environmental actors in our country is very well positioned. The projects and proposals are of high quality, and in competitive concurrence with other countries, our proposals are among the best-valued.

– Any recommendations for success in this new call for proposals?

Given that the competitive concurrence is very high, the proposals must be excellent. Our basic recommendations:

1.      Work in advance.

2.      Align projects with new legislative initiatives.

3.      Provide the same importance to technological challenges as to non-technological ones.

4.      Dive in all the information that will soon be available.