Photo: Panos Georgiou
Photo: Panos Georgiou

How do we work?

CitizensLab is a change process that rethinks and redoes how we live, work and learn in Europe. Taking a Lab Approach helps us to navigate the complexity of this endeavour.

Lab Approach

We create a space where active citizens from all sectors can come together and share their practices. Members bring their individual and local expertise to the collective question of ‘How can our diverse practices create a more meaningful quality of life in Europe’.

The Lab Approach invites us to connect, illuminate each other and let a new community intelligence emerge. We cultivate shared responsibilities and self-organised processes.

The following elements are crucial to a Lab Approach:
  1. A shared longer term goal
  2. A core group that co-designs and co-hosts the process and navigates the complexity of the lab
  3. Series of experiments and prototypes where the new system is enacted in real-time
  4. An action-research process to illuminate the collectively generated knowledge
  5. A community of practices for a new system of influence

Launched in March 2016 the CitizensLab will go through three phases of development.

During the Pilot Phase we built the Network of currently 56 local actors of change: We established the governance structure as well as the purpose and principles of CitizensLab. Also, we connected to each other through mobility visits and started collaborating in prototypes.

The second phase is dedicated to becoming a Community of Practice: We develop and implement prototypes in different local contexts, share and exchange on our methods, tools and approaches by putting them into practice together.

During the third phase we will become a New System of Influence and strengthen our impact on EU policy-making and decision-making even more for a stronger participation and representation of citizens on EU level.

Network Meetings

During the Network Meetings we come together in person twice a year to deepen our relations, to build trust and cohesion within the network, to learn from each other’s experiences and develop concrete actions, such as translocal experiments and transformative interventions. In a participatory process we decide about the location of the Network Meeting and co-design the programme together.

Mobility visits

CitizensLab members use mobility grants to deepen connections and strengthen collaboration. Mobility visits are an opportunity to visit each other and learn about local initiatives. In the local working and living context of another member we can absorb practical and intuitive knowledge, discover new methods and practices, and gain new perspectives on our own work.


CitizensLab is a laboratory for testing how we can improve our quality of life in Europe in meaningful ways. In translocal initiatives we prototype alternative approaches and new solutions on how we can better live, work and learn together. Those experiments scale and connect both existing and new local initiatives, activities and ideas and practice change by developing a culture of sharing, collaboration and mutual learning. With the prototypes we experiment with real life examples for the Europe we really want: vibrant, unified and diverse.

By collaborating on the European level we support each other to increase the impact of our local initiatives, which are dedicated to a wide range of issues around which citizen participation is needed. We strengthen solidarity among citizens and communities within and across borders.


In the governance of the network, we experiment with new approaches to decision-making without the burden of established rules and conventions. We empower each other and take an active stance locally and on the European level on issues and decisions that are important not only for our work, but also for the lives of the citizens with whom we are working and cooperating. Thus, we seek to connect in a joint movement for a more critical approach to political, social and civic development and the development of transnational narratives on civic engagement.

Read more