The GERDA experiment has been proposed in 2004 as a new 76 Ge double-beta decay experiment at LNGS. The GERDA proposal foresees the installation of a facility with germanium detectors made out of isotopically enriched material. The detectors will be operated inside a liquid argon shield. The experiment is located in Hall A of LNGS and will serve a dual purpose. The setup will probe the neutrinoless double beta decay of 76 Ge with a sensitivity of T 1/2 > 1.4E26 y at 90% confidence level, corresponding to a range of effective neutrino mass < 0.09 - 0.30 eV. In addition the proposed experiment will be a pioneering low-level facility which will demonstrate the possibility of reducing backgrounds by 2-3 orders of magnitude below the current state-of-the-art.