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Call: European City Facility

Programme
Acronym LIFE-CET
Description of programme
"LIFE - sub-programme “Clean Energy Transition”"

The specific objectives of the sub-programme "Clean Energy Transition" are the following:

  • to develop, demonstrate and promote innovative techniques, methods and approaches for reaching the objectives of Union legislation and policy on the transition to sustainable renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, and to contribute to the knowledge base and to the application of best practice;
  • to support the development, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of relevant Union legislation and policy on the transition to sustainable renewable energy or increased energy efficiency, including by improving governance at all levels, in particular through enhancing capacities of public and private actors and the involvement of civil society;
  • to catalyse the large-scale deployment of successful technical and policy-related solutions for implementing relevant Union legislation on the transition to renewable energy or increased energy efficiency by replicating results, integrating related objectives into other policies and into public and private sector practices, mobilising investment and improving access to finance.

This sub-programme will fund the activities responding to the specific topics defined in the annual calls for proposals which are based on the list of priority topics. Other activities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, which do not address the specific requirements of the calls defined under this sub-programme can be submitted to the calls under the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation sub-programme.

The sub-programme will aim at facilitating the transition toward an energy-efficient, renewable energy-based, climate-neutral and -resilient economy by funding coordination and support actions across Europe. These actions aim at breaking market barriers that hamper the socio-economic transition to sustainable energy, typically engaging multiple small and medium-size stakeholders, multiple actors including local and regional public authorities and non-profit organisations, and involving consumers.

The sub-programme will contribute to the implementation of the energy-related actions of the European Green Deal, including the ‘Renovation wave’ initiative for the building sector and will give due consideration to territories not connected to the European grids such as the EU outermost regions. It will contribute to the Just Transition objectives by accompanying the territories and the groups of citizens negatively affected by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, by building capacity of actors and fostering clean energy investments, mainly in energy efficiency and locally available, sustainable, renewable energy sources. Activities related to technology development will not be included.

A significant part of this budget will be used to finance Coordination and Support Actions (CSA) under OAs grants for the four year period, whereas the possibility to finance SAPs is only foreseen as from 2023.

It will cover the following areas of intervention:

  • Building a national, regional and local policy framework supporting the clean energy transition:

Increasing coherence of energy transition governance at different levels by enhancing multi-stakeholder dialogue and building the capacity of public authorities to deliver under the national energy and climate plans and/or other plans and strategies (e.g. just transition plans, long-term renovation strategies, strategies for the electrification of the transport system). Supporting the development and effective implementation of clean energy policies, including the relevant Union legislation on products and energy consumers, in the EU and third countries. Supporting actions that put into practice the enabling provisions included in the European legislation on clean energy.

  • Accelerating technology roll-out, digitalisation, new services and business models and enhancement of the related professional skills on the market for the clean energy transition:

Providing support for the decarbonisation of the buildings, industry and tertiary sectors, by fostering market uptake of innovative solutions, including digitalization and circular design in line with the climate neutrality target. Accelerating the clean energy transition by enabling the development of new added-value services and innovative business models. The roll-out of technologies and innovative solutions needs to be accompanied by measures addressing market barriers including support to the development and deployment of new skills and frameworks (labels, certificates, technological and non-technological standards, e.g. for interoperability, etc.).

  • Attracting private finance for sustainable energy:

To upscale investments in sustainable energy, different capital flows need to be made available by addressing both supply and demand of finance, and by using public funds effectively. Supply side activities include: data collection, methodology and evidence-based risk management; harmonisation of definition and measuring of sustainable investments; development of innovative financing mechanisms, products, services and practices; standardisation and aggregation of projects and investments; simplification of the process for investors; capacity building and dialogue. Activities should contribute to EU policy and legislation in the field of sustainable finance.

  • Supporting the development of local and regional investment projects:

Build capacity of local public authorities and private investors, notably community collective investors. Facilitate dialogue with the financial sector to deliver sustainable energy investments, including tailored actions contributing to a fair society and to a just energy transition in EU regions most dependent on fossil fuels or carbon intensive processes. Promote public procurement of energy and resource efficient works, supplies and services. Support tailored approaches for local actors to develop investment concepts, implement organisational innovations and aggregate projects. Improve market conditions and develop new integrated services offers for sustainable energy in buildings, transport, ports, and SMEs.

  • Involving and empowering citizens in the clean energy transition:

Support citizens in taking an active role in the clean energy transition, including targeted support for collective actions, community and citizen-led initiatives and development of new energy services and social innovations. Strengthen collaboration between local authorities and citizen-led initiatives. Support actions that contribute to alleviate energy poverty. Foster energy literacy and sustainable energy behaviour of citizens, in particular younger generations.

Link Link to Programme
Call
European City Facility
Description of call
"European City Facility"

Objective:

Under this topic, a ‘European City Facility’ shall be run under the LIFE CET programme, which builds on the experiences gained from the current Horizon 2020 European City Facility (H2020 EUCF) and envisages an appropriate follow-up and upscale of its fundamental approach(es).

Significantly enhanced investments will be needed to attain the ambitious objectives of the EU climate and energy policy and, in particular, the dedicated targets set for the years 2030 and 2050. This is also emphasized in the European Green Deal Investment Plan, which aims at mobilising at least €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the course of 10 years for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

In this context, the level of sustainable energy and, in particular, energy efficiency investments needs to be increased considerably by both public and private funding sources, with an overall emphasis on progressively maximising the leverage ratio of private to public finance. This is also embedded in the “Renovation Wave”, which, in line with the European Green Deal and the Climate Target Plan, addresses the strategic priority to substantially enhance energy efficiency in buildings and related investments to ensure a larger contribution of this sector to the increased 2030 climate and energy targets. Along the priorities identified by the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings initiative and in order to achieve the Renovation Wave objectives of doubling building renovation rates and fostering deep energy renovation, EU decarbonisation efforts call for a more effective use of public funds, boosting project aggregation and building a substantial pipeline of energy efficiency investment projects across Europe.

Cities and municipalities play a key role in aggregating smaller projects into sizable packages and in mobilising the significant amount of finance needed for the energy transition. However, the degree of European cities and municipalities succeeding in developing and scaling up investment packages is still too limited in light of their overall potential and the challenges ahead. A key gap is the lack of capacity and/or resources of public authorities, especially of small and medium-sized municipalities, to transform their long-term climate and energy strategies, for instance Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs) or similar, into credible investment concepts enabling access to different finance sources. In particular, public authorities in many cases lack (access to) financial, technical and legal expertise needed to collect additional data, develop an investment programme of scale (for instance, pooling projects and/or bundling projects with neighbouring constituencies) or design finance strategies which demonstrate sufficient maturity.

Such investment concepts would allow a large number of European cities and municipalities to start or intensify the process of mobilising investments in sustainable energy in a clearly tailored and target-oriented way. Depending on the underlying investment portfolio and structure, such concepts could be used to directly approach investors and/or financiers for more in-depth investment discussions and negotiations, and/or, where relevant, envisage combination/blending with other EU financing streams and services to trigger the expected investment (e.g. Cohesion Policy Funds, InvestEU Fund, National Recovery and Resilience Plans, PDA, National Investment Platforms).

Scope:

Proposals should take into account experiences regarding the ongoing H2020 EUCF, which is addressing above issues, and envisage an appropriate follow-up and upscale of its fundamental approach(es). In this context, proposals are expected to run a 'European City Facility' under LIFE which offers financial support and services to cities and municipalities or their groupings:

  • The European City Facility should offer financial support to European cities and municipalities to develop investment concepts for sustainable energy investments, with a dedicated focus on energy efficiency. These concepts should be developed within a limited period of time and cover, inter-alia: a clear identification of the potential project pipeline, a legal analysis, a governance analysis, a description of how the investments will be financed and a design of the process to launch the investments. In this context:
    • Proposals are expected to foresee financial support to third parties, in the form of grants including ‘lump sums’ ('financial support scheme'), and around 70-75% of the budget should directly benefit cities, municipalities or their groupings in this context.
    • In accordance with the general call conditions on financial support to third parties, applicants should in particular also clearly specify why financial support to third parties is needed and how it will be managed, and provide a list of the different types of activities for which a third party may receive financial support. The process and criteria for allocation of financial support to third parties need to conform to EU standards concerning transparency, equal treatment, conflict of interest and confidentiality. The proposal must also clearly describe the results to be obtained.
    • Proposers should demonstrate the capacity to run a financial support scheme at large scale in accordance with LIFE CET standards and that they are able to select the most cost-efficient and appropriate applications taking into account, inter alia, the scale of the potential investment and energy savings, as well as the number of inhabitants covered in the specific context targeted.
  • The European City Facility should additionally offer services at the national/regional level to support cities and municipalities in the application, investment concept development and investment implementation processes.
  • The European City Facility should furthermore envisage appropriate replication measures and exchange of best practices among cities and municipalities, in particular also with a view to enabling the uptake and efficient operationalisation of the fundamental approaches of its scheme at the national/regional level.
  • In this context, the European City Facility should establish an appropriate framework for comprehensive monitoring, analysis and capitalisation of results, notably the leverage factor achieved by the EUCF financial support with regard to envisaged investment concepts and related source(s) of funding.

Proposers should be deeply rooted in municipal sustainable energy/climate planning and financial engineering of sustainable energy and, in particular, energy efficiency investments.

Proposers should demonstrate a deep understanding of the strategic nature of this initiative, as regards, inter alia, the different challenges for upscaling finance for sustainable energy investments and, in particular, for mobilising private financing sources.

Proposers should also demonstrate that they are able to mobilise a critical mass of cities/municipalities or their groupings and have a sound and inclusive outreach strategy to cities and municipalities across Europe.

In order to qualify for support through the European City Facility, cities and municipalities or their groupings should, inter alia, provide proof of political commitment, clarify existing planning processes and resources, demonstrate an ambitious scale of potential investment and level of energy savings in the specific context targeted based on politically approved SECAPs or plans of similar ambition, describe the investment sectors targeted, the type of financial solutions envisaged and the governance to develop the investment concept, envisage a convincing plan on the engagement of key stakeholders in the relevant (technical and financial) segments, including citizens, as well as a plan for long-term capacity building within the public administration, and commit to a monitoring of investment implementation for 2 years.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 16 million would allow the specific objectives to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Proposals are expected to demonstrate the impacts listed below, using quantified indicators and targets, wherever possible:

  • Increased, well-demonstrated and documented, leveraging of (private) finance into sustainable energy and, in particular, energy efficiency investments by public authorities
  • Number of investment concepts delivered and number of investment concepts transformed into ambitious tangible investments as a result of the action
  • Investments in sustainable energy triggered by the project (cumulative, in million Euro)
  • Primary energy savings/Renewable energy generation triggered by the project (GWh/year)
  • Number of public authority staff with increased capacity for developing investible sustainable energy and, in particular, energy efficiency projects
  • Uptake by potential replicators on the national/regional level
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases emissions (in tCO2-eq/year)
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Administration & Governance, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Albania / Shqipëria
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Albania / Shqipëria
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Education and Training Centres, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, National Government, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:

  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
    • non-EU countries:
      • listed EEA countries and countries associated to the LIFE Programme (participating countries) or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature
  • the coordinator must be established in an eligible country
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Proposals must be submitted by at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) from 3 different eligible countries.

Entities from other countries are exceptionally eligible, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action (see work programme).

Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).

International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.

Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees for the protection of the EU financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons34.

EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.

Entities composed of members may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. Please note that if the action will be implemented by the members, they should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible).

Beneficiaries from countries with ongoing negotiations may participate in the call and can sign grants if the negotiations are concluded before grant signature (with retroactive effect, if provided in the agreement).

Special rules apply for certain entities (e.g. entities subject to EU restrictive measures under Article 29 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and entities covered by Commission Guidelines No 2013/C 205/0537). Such entities are not eligible to participate in any capacity, including as beneficiaries, affiliated entities, associated partners, subcontractors or recipients of financial support to third parties (if any).

Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:

  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants (future coordinator, beneficiaries and affiliated entities) and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • Part C (to be filled in directly online) containing additional project data
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • detailed budget table (mandatory excel template available in the Submission System)
    • participant information (mandatory template available in the Submission System)
  • optional annexes: letters of support

Page limit - Part B: 70 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details

The available call budget is EUR 16,000,000.

Funding rate: up to 95%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Contact Details https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/life/about-life/life-contacts_en

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