European Union job roles

EU Officials

EU officials work for one of nine European institutions, including the European Commission, the Court of Justice and the European Parliament. There are opportunities for graduates as Administrators, Linguists, Assistants (support staff) and specialists. Graduate candidates are typically suited to Administrator or Linguist posts.

The EU are now encouraging more UK nationals to apply in order to increase British representation in EU institutions.

How to apply

  • Application is through the open competitions organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) Registration begins in the same month every year:
    • Administrators - March
    • Linguists - July
    • Assistants - December
    • Specialists - on an ad hoc basis advertised on the above website
  • It is possible to apply before your degree has been awarded.
  • You must be a national of one of the EU countries.
  • You must be reasonably fluent in your second language (3 languages for linguists) and be able to sit assessment tests in that language.
  • Competency-based testing in now used in place of the old EU knowledge testing.

European Commission administrator

European Commission administrators, also known as Permanent Officials, are responsible for the formation, implementation and management of EU policy and legislation. The European Commission, European Parliament and several other EU institutions employ administrators. Most jobs are based in Luxembourg and Brussels.

Job description 

  • Writing reports
  • Preparing policy proposals and legislation on community issues;
  • Developing and implementing policies
  • Researching procedures in member states to co-ordinate policy;

Qualifications and training

  • Degree in any discipline although the following can be helpful; statistics, law, economics, European studies or politics.
  • Outstanding academic achievement including good A level or equivalent.
  • A traineeship or “stagiaire” in an EU institution can be particularly helpful - see EU internship

Preparation

  • Prepare for competitions early. Practice tests are at European Careers sample tests
  • Think long term; apply for relevant internships
  • Improve your language skills
  • Postgraduate study is useful. The College of Europe in Belgium and Poland has connections to EU institutions: College of Europe

European Union Linguist

The main jobs for linguists in the EU are either as translators, interpreters or lawyer linguists. Based in Brussels and Luxembourg the team are responsible for ensuring that EU business can be understood in all of the EU’s official languages. Lawyer linguists are qualified lawyers who translate legal texts.  

Within the EU there is great demand for linguists with English as their native language. The institutions of the EU are one of the largest employers of linguists in the world.

Job description – Translators

  • Translate legislation, speeches and publications into native language;
  • Translate from a range of complex sources from all of the EU’s areas of activity (economic, financial, technical etc);
  • Research topics in several languages;
  • Keep up to date with financial, economic and legal affairs.

Job description – Interpreters

  • Interpreters deal exclusively with verbal communication;
  • Render orally speeches given by MEPs and in real time;
  • Interpret at plenary sittings, committee meetings, meetings of political groups, press meetings.

Qualifications and training

  • Degree in any discipline including non-language arts degrees relevant to EU policies.
  • Outstanding academic achievement.
  • Perfect command of native language and two or more EU languages which must include either English, French or German.
  • For interpreter jobs a postgraduate interpreting qualification is necessary. For details see European Masters in conference interpreting.

Specialists

  • Professional experience is needed in chosen field; usually three years.
  • Recent advertisements have included: Archivist, IT specialist and Senior economist.
  • Specialist jobs are advertised on an ad hoc basis on  EU Careers

Contract and Temporary agents

Contract and Temporary agents offer fixed term employment for specific tasks or tasks limited in time in such areas as clerical, administrative or policy making. These positions could be in EU institutions or more commonly in EU Agencies. Although highly competitive it is easier to become a Contract or Temporary Agent rather than a permanent official but in general the salary is lower.

Contract agents

  • Contract Agents can work in Commission Offices, Commission Directorates- General and EU Agencies located all over the EU.   
  • Positions are available for a wide range of jobs, which require different levels of qualifications and experience. 
  • They can be short term i.e three months or longer with an initial contract running up to 5 years.

Temporary agents

  • Temporary agents can work in highly specialised jobs, or to make up for staff shortages, in the Commissioners’ private offices, scientific sector and EU agencies.
  • Positions are usually for a maximum of 5 years and can be renewed although there is no guarantee of this.

How to apply

  • Send your details to the EU CV online database or (ELSE database if you are interested in the research field). See  http://ec.europa.eu.
  • Fill in online applications on the EPSO website.
  • Check the EPSO website for CAST (Contract Agents for Specific Tasks).
  • Check the EU Agencies’ individual websites. See Europa: Agencies.
  • Check the Directorate-General website.

More information

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