Lots of young people want to work for the European institutions. Fortunately, there are lots of options to become part of the Eurobubble, which I’ve tried to put together below.
All European institutions offer traineeship programmes, although the application processes may differ dramatically.
In the European Parliament we distinguish between the centralised and the decentralised application process.
When you enter the centralised application process, it means that you’re applying for a paid or unpaid position in one of the EP’s directorate-generals (e.g. Presidency, Communication, Personnel, Translation). These traineeship last for five months. There are set application deadlines (in May and October) and only university graduates are eligible.
You may also enter a decentralised application process via the political groups and Members of the European Parliament. Duration and pay of your traineeship will vary widely. Nevertheless, as a general rule these position are open for all young people, including those who haven’t graduated from university. Ideally you should live or study in the constituency of the MEP you’re applying with. Alternatively, your may have a strong thematic link to your MEP’s work.
Apart from the European institutions, EU agencies and representations also offer traineeships:
The EU-agencies in the member states, such as:
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (Vienna)
- European Institute for Gender Equality (Vilnius)
- European Environmental Agency (Copenhagen)
- Of interest groups (e.g. from the areas of economic, trade, transport or agriculture)
- Of governments (e.g. German federal government, Saxon state government)
- Of NGOs (e.g. Greenpeace, Amnesty International)
It is important to know that once you have completed a traineeship with a European institution or an EU-agency (paid or unpaid), you will not be able to do another traineeship with these institutions.
Working for the EU
In principle, you will have to apply for jobs with the EU through the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO).
An exception is formed by the employees of the political groups in the European Parliament (e.g. press, consultants), as well as by the MEPs’ assistants. These members of staff are selected directly by the political groups and the MEPs.
Everyone else who desires to work for the European institutions has to successfully get through the EPSO selection procedure (concours). In addition to that, a number of criteria have to be met. Apart from being an EU-citizen who has completed high school, you have to know at least one EU-language other than your mother tongue. Depending on the level of expertise required for the job you’re applying for, you may have to possess a university degree and job experience.
The concours will test different skill sets, such as analytics, problem-solving, communication, personal development, organisation, endurance and the ability to work in a team.
The nine-month application procedure involves three stages: 1. Filling out the online application form; 2. Computer-based entrance exam (near where you live); 3. Assessment centre in Brussels. Upon completion of all three stages, the best candidates are entered into a database, from which the EU institutions finally select their staff.
Once this is done, you can rejoice, having become an employee of the EU’s public service. There are several different areas of work:
- European public administration
- Law, economics
- IT and communications technologies
- Human resources, secretariat
- Translation and interpreting