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Programme promoting NGOs active in the field of environmental protection

The purpose of this Community programme is to encourage the activities of European NGOs whose primary aim is to protect the environment and which contribute to developing and implementing European policy and legislation in the field of the environment.


Decision 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 [see amending acts].


The report

Council Decision 97/872/EC on a Community action programme promoting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) primarily active in the field of environmental protection required a progress report on the implementation of this programme within the first three years (1998-2000). This report was drawn up in the light of the experience acquired by the Commission and the beneficiaries of the programme [COM(2001) 337 final - Volume I]. The report concluded that the programme (which came to an end on 31 December 2001) should be continued with a number of adjustments. This Decision constitutes the new programme and replaces Decision 97/872/EC.

The report on the implementation of Decision 97/872/EC stressed that the renewal of the programme enjoyed substantial support from the Commission and the NGOs. However, it also pointed to particular shortcomings that ought to be remedied. These included:

  • expanding the geographical scope of the programme to candidate countries and the Balkans;
  • better distribution of resources among the various regions and between small and large NGOs;
  • a cumbersome evaluation process at every stage of the programme;
  • delays in payments to the NGOs and other problems in the financial management of the programme;
  • the use of selection criteria that are not sufficiently objective;
  • the fact that the NGOs benefiting under the programme tend always to be the same ones;
  • the absence of a clearly defined audit system;
  • the importance of the NGOs systematically participating in drawing up and implementing European policy on the environment.

The new programme

The objective of the new programme established by this Decision is to promote activities of NGOs which are primarily active in protecting the environment and contribute to the development and implementation of Community environment policy in all the regions of Europe. The programme encourages systematic participation by the NGOs in formulating Community environment policy and the strengthening of small local or regional associations working to apply the environmental acquis.

The programme covers NGOs with the following characteristics:

  • they must be independent and non-profit making and have as their principal objective the protection of the environment;
  • they must be active at European level and cover at least three European countries (coverage of two countries is acceptable, subject to certain conditions);
  • they must be established in one of the Member States, a candidate country or one of the Balkan countries;
  • their activities must be consistent with the Sixth Environment Action Programme;
  • they must have been legally constituted for more than two years and had their accounts certified.

Support from this programme is concentrated on the priorities of the Sixth Environment Action Programme, environmental education and the enforcement of Community environmental legislation.

A call for proposals for grants provided for in the programme is published by 30 September each year at the latest. NGOs receiving grants are chosen each year by 31 December at the latest, and their names published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Grants to NGOs of member countries do not exceed 70% of the average annual eligible expenses of the organisation during the preceding two years. In the case of NGOs based in candidate countries or the Balkans, the limit is fixed at 80%. Grants may under no circumstances exceed 80% of the eligible expenses of the organisation for the current year. They are determined each year. The annex to this Decision describes the four steps of the selection and award process.

Mechanisms for verification and evaluation of the results of NGOs benefiting under the programme have been provided for. If the expected results are not attained, the organisation may forfeit the grant. Various penalties are laid down in the event of irregularities or fraud (annulment of the grant, payment of a fine, exclusion from other Community funding opportunities, exclusion from dialogue mechanisms).

The programme covers the period from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2006 and its budget amounts to EUR 32 million.

By 30 April each year, the Commission is to provide a report to Parliament and the Member States on the allocation of grants and the outcomes thereof. The Commission is required, by 31 December 2004 at the latest, to submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the achievement of the objectives of the programme during the first three years. If appropriate, the Commission will suggest adjustments to be made.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 466/2002/EC



OJ L 75 of 16.3.2002

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 786/2004/EC



OJ L 138 of 30.4.2004


Regulation (EC) No 614/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+ ) [Official Journal L 149, 09.06.2007].

Lists of organisations receiving Community funding for environmental purposes:[Official Journal C 147 of 24.6.2003];[Official Journal C 324 of 24.12.2002];[Official Journal C 279 of 15.11.2002].

Last updated: 24.10.2006