European Solutions Lab

In the times of Euroscepticism, there is a need for improved spaces for political debates linking policy-makers and citizens, rebuilding trust and creating new ‘bottom up’ based modes of collaboration. The project “European solutions lab” (EU-LAB) developed by a consortium linked to the organizers of democracy festivals across Baltic States and Belgium aims at facilitating the engagement of citizens from partner countries into the local, national and European policy-making processes. The project encourages bottom-up based modes of collaboration between citizens and the policy-makers.

You can read more about these events  at project EU Solutions Lab website.

8 events have been carried out within this project:

Preparatory meeting in Vilnius, February 2019

Participation: The preparatory meeting has involved 11 participants – representatives of  partner organizations from Latvia (1), Estonia (2), Belgium (2) and Lithuania (6).

Location / Dates: The event took place Vilnus, Lithuania on 19/2/2019.
Short description:

Preparatory activities included a number of online meetings that have been organized in January – February 2019. These meetings were followed by the face-to face preparatory meeting in Vilnius (LT) that was organized with the aim to identify the overarching thematic priorities for the project events; to discuss and design the practical implementation of the project objectives, partners’ roles and responsibilities. External expert was invited to facilitate the process of combining needs and perspectives of all partners. 2 thematic priorities have been identified (civic participation and future of Europe); common activities (survey of participants of the events, communication actions) were planned.

Event 1 Joint partner and stakeholder workshop

Participation: The event involved 30 participants from Latvia (2), Estonia (2), Belgium (2), Lithuania (24).

Location / Dates: The event took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 27/11/2019.

Short description: 

The joint partner and stakeholder workshop was aimed at fostering discussion about the implementation of the project activities – especially focusing on European dimension of democracy festivals as means of promoting European values and ideas exchange on the future of Europe. The workshop „New EC Policies: What is the Role of Civil Society?“ was organized by the Open Lithuania Foundation and was aimed at discussing the priorities outlined by new European Commission, especially focusing on the envisaged role of civil society. During the seminar participants discussed with the Head of Representation of the European Commission in Lithuania the actual opportunities for CSOs to participate in deliberations of European issues and decision-making. Do we seize current opportunities for participation? What is lacking for effective participation? Experiences and lessons learned about participation in European issues deliberations were shared among the participants of the workshop. The workshop was supplemented with a working session of the project partners on the quality of collaboration, common challenges and potential opportunities. A draft-plan for future collaboration within a frame of Europe for Citizens programme was prepared.

Event 2 Afternoon of Open conversations “Open City”

Participation: The event involved 90 people from Kėdainiai (Lithuania) (90).

Location / Dates: The event took place in M. Dauksa Public Library, Kėdainiai, Lithuania, 1/5/2019
Short description:

The aim of the event that was organized by the Open Lithuania Foundation with a local partner (Kėdainiai Resilient Society Group) was to provide a space for open and engaging discussions about the Europe, city, its citizens, challenges they are facing and the ways how these challenges can be dealt. Prominent lectures (political scientist L. Kojala, environmentalist J. Lavrinec, political analyst D. Puslys) gave overviews on topics related to European issues, active community engagement and resilience of the society. Then community members had the possibility to discuss these topics in the thematic groups and had inclusive debates with the speakers. The event was finalized with satirical discussion “In the middle of the Europe”.

Event 3 Discussion festival Būtent! 2019
Participation: The project event that was organized by the Open Lithuania Foundation in the frame of BŪTENT! Festival, involved 230 people from Lithuania (225), Poland (1), Ireland (2), United Kingdom (1), Denmark (1).

Location / Dates: The event took place in Vytautas park, Birštonas, Lithuania, 6/9/2019.

Short description:  

In the frame of this event, the OLF has organized 3 public discussions related to European challenges and citizen participation. “How much power do I have in my city decision-making?” – a discussion on the lack of dialogue between local communities and municipalities. “Citizens assemblies – a unicorn in deliberative democracy” – a discussion about innovative ways, e.g. citizens’ assemblies, to involve citizens in urban, national decision making and policy deliberations. “I’ve emigrated accidentally” – an interactive, dynamic story-telling based performance about experiences of being an immigrant in Western Europe from the Eastern European country and challenges one faces discovering his/her European identity. As the additional event, a video conference with the participants of the Jubel festival (Belgium) was organized on 7/9/2019, where young participants of BŪTENT! Festival (Lithuania) and Jubel Ambassadors (Belgium) had an opportunity to share with each other their experience and impressions of being a part of the democracy festival.

Event 4 Warm-up event of the Conversation festival LAMPA

Participation: The event (debates of the candidates to the Members of the European Parliament) involved 145 people from Riga (Latvia) (145).

Location / Dates: The event took place in Nordeķi park, Iļguciems suburb, Riga, Latvia, 11/5/2019
Short description: 

The aim of the event was to show local residents a glimpse of the festival, inviting them to attend the conversation festival LAMPA in Cēsis. In the frame of the warm-up event which attracted around 800 local inhabitants and citizens of Riga, a number of workshops and discussions were organized by the project partner – Latvian Foundation for an Open Society DOTS, i.e. a workshop on how to cope with anger, a conversation on how business, government and communities can come together and improve school education, a discussion on the future developments in Riga and how can society influence decision-making in the City Council, exciting kids’ programme, band performance, and, finally, debates of the candidates to the Members of the European Parliament.

Event 5 Conversation festival LAMPA 2019

Participation: The discussion event that has been organized in the frame of LAMPA festival was attended by 350 people, from Finland (1), Sweden (1), Germany (3), Norway (3), Latvia (342).

Location / Dates: The discussion took place in Cēsis Castle Park, Cēsis, Latvia, 28/6/2019.

Short description:

Latvian democracy festival – the conversation festival LAMPA – was for the fifth time organised in a picturesque town of Cēsis attracting a record-breaking number of visitors and thus becoming the largest open-air summer festival in Latvia. More than 20 000 participants, among them 47% from Riga (Latvia), 15% Riga region (Latvia), 27% Vidzeme region (Latvia), Zemgale region (4%), Kurzeme region (3%), Latgale region (1%), other EU countries (3%) have attended LAMPA’s events.One of the key conversations was held by the project partner – foundation DOTS – on the future of the European Union (“EU – less or more”), featuring Latvian Prim-Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, President-elect Egils Levits and MEP from the National Alliance Roberts Zīle. That was an open and frank discussion between Latvian leading decision-makers and festival attendees on the Union and its values.

Event 6 Warm-up event in Tallinn

Participation: The event involved 157 people from Austria (2), Australia (2), Bulgaria (1), China (1), Egypt (1), Estonia (108), Finland (2), France (1), Germany (6), India (1), Italy (1), Japan (2), Netherlands (1), Norway (1), Pakistan (1), Poland (1), Portugal (2), Russia (6), Spain (1), Sweden (2), UK (8), Ukraine (3), USA (2) and Venezuela (1).

Location / Dates: The event took place in Tallinn, Estonia, 6/5/2019.
Short description:

The aim of the event organized by the Open Estonian Foundation was to hold a debate with seven major Estonian candidates running for the European Parliament on the future of Europe and to tackle the topics important for ost of the citizens, both – locally and across the EU. It was a lively debate with engaging audience, discussing questions on a wide range of topics from foreign policy to the role of civil society. To make it more interactive, a few questions in real time were asked, as well as a quck round of only Yes/No questions. This debate was the most popular English-language pre-election debate in Estonia; and the international auditorium reflects well the interest of expats from other countries.

Event 7 Arvamusfestival in Paide 2019

Participation: The discussion organized in the frame of Arvamusfestival (Estonian Opinion Festival), has involved 78 citizens, with participants from Belgium (2), Sweden (1), Finland (1), Germany (1), US (1), Japan (1), UK (1), Estonia (70).

Location / Dates: The event took place in Paide, Estonia on 9/8/2019.
Short description:

Although the public at the Estonian Opinion Festival is overwhelmingly Estonian, the project partners – the Open Estonian Foundation –  wanted to have a more international event and held their discussion in English. “Youth of Europe – is what we want, what we get?” discussed equilibrium between expectations and reality in EU affairs, taken from the youth point of view and will to participate in policy-making. Broad topics ranged from challenging liberal values to current and future challenges with technology and climate change, with a number of smaller and more specific questions. The opportunities for young people to participate in policy-making both in and outside of politics were also debated.

Event 8 Jubel – European democracy festival

Participation: The project events organized by the Jubel team (Belgium) in the frame of the European democracy festival have gathered around 250 participants from Albania (2), Austria (3), Belgium (196), Bulgaria (1), Croatia (1), Czech Republic (4), Estonia (1), France (2), Germany (8), Greece (4), Hungary (4), Italy (4), Latvia (2), Malta (1), Netherlands (1), Poland (4), Portugal (1), Romania (2), Spain (5), Sweden (1), UK (3).

Location / Dates: the event took place in Jubelpark/Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Belgium, from 6/9/2019 to 7/9/2019
Short description:

The aim of the events was to bridge the gap between citizens and decision-makers in the European Union. The Jubel festival is an innovative event reflecting on citizen participation in European affairs and addressing the revival of European democracy. Taking place at a specific moment in time after European elections, citizens from all over Europe came to Brussels to the festival, eager to discuss their future and the future of the EU. The common thread linking the various debates and interactions during the festival was to set a series of qualitative bottom-up discussions (for example the ambassadors leading face to face interviews) based on the concern of the citizens on the future of Europe. On top of that the festival aims at reinforcing the democratic values and transparency of the EU institutions in such a way that the EU quarter can be perceived as a vehicle for citizen participation and European democracy.

Project coordinator: Open Lithuania Foundation

Partners: Foundation for an Open Society DOTS (Latvia) fosters creation of an environment, process, and dialogue for an open society in Latvia, helping to seed ideas and conceive solutions since 1992.

Jubel – European Conversation Festival
 (Belgium) focuses on piloting program ideas in public space, evaluating them, refining them, and reporting back in order to hand over the long term development to the existing, competent actors, such as municipalities, the Brussels Region or the European Institutions who have a legitimacy to assure the durability on the long term.

Open Estonia Foundation (Estonia) runs initiatives that help to increase and enhance openness in decision making, boost a meaningful dialogue across the society and develop a sustainable and viable civil society.

The project is co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme.

Sponsors and partners