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European Union official

European Union (EU) officials work for one of seven European institutions, including the European Commission (the largest department, which is the civil service of the EU), the Court of Justice and the European Parliament.

If you are interested in current affairs, and you can speak more than one EU language, this job could be ideal for you.

To be good at this job you would also need to have communication and presentation skills. You would need to use your initiative and be a logical thinker.

To work for one of the EU institutions, you must be a citizen of an EU member state. You must also have a satisfactory knowledge of a second EU language (you do not need a qualification in the second language, but you will be tested during the recruitment process). There are different entry requirements for specialist jobs and jobs at different grades - see the Entry requirements section below for details.

The work

The various departments have a wide range of powers and functions, including:

  • proposing new laws
  • making sure all member countries obey EU laws
  • administering agricultural and other policies
  • managing EU programmes and budgets
  • representing the EU in international affairs.

You could work in one of a wide range of jobs at Administrator (AD) or Assistant (AST) grade. Depending on the department, duties at AD level might include:

  • drafting new laws
  • taking part in negotiations with non-EU countries
  • putting new policies and programmes into practice
  • attending meetings and conferences
  • preparing research and reports
  • answering questions from members of the European Parliament
  • managing staff, finances or equipment.

You would also be employed at AD grade if you provided language services as a translator, interpreter or lawyer linguist (a qualified lawyer who translates legal texts into your native language).

Assistants (AST) support AD staff. At this level, your work might involve collecting and analysing information, providing secretarial support, or accounting, IT or library services.

You would usually work in several different EU departments during your career.

Hours

Your standard working week would be 37 hours, Monday to Friday, although in theory you are expected to be available for work at all times.

Most jobs are available in Brussels or Luxembourg. You would be office-based, but you may travel to attend meetings and conferences. You will usually have access to a range of social facilities to help you integrate into life in the host country.

Income

Starting salaries at Assistant grade are 2,654 to 4,349 euros a month. Starting salaries at Administrator grade AD5 are 4,349 euros a month.

There are also several extra allowances available, depending on your personal circumstances.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Entry requirements

To work for one of the EU institutions, you must be a citizen of an EU member state. You must also have a satisfactory knowledge of a second EU language (you do not need a qualification in the second language, but you will be tested during the recruitment process).

For Administrator (AD) jobs – you will need a university degree. If you are a recent graduate, you will usually start as a junior administrator at AD5 grade. For many jobs at this level, your degree can be in any subject, although for some jobs you may need a degree in a specific subject such as law, economics, statistics or a science.

To start at grade AD6 or 7, you will need a degree and at least a year's relevant work experience. Many specialist jobs at these grades require at least three years’ professional experience and a degree in a specific subject.

For Lawyer linguist jobs (grade AD7) – you must have a recognised law degree or be a qualified solicitor or barrister, and be fluent in two more EU languages as well as your native language. Often one of your languages as a lawyer linguist should be French or German.

For Assistant (AST) jobs – you will usually need either:

  • BTEC HND or equivalent, or
  • two A levels or similar qualifications, plus at least three years’ relevant work experience.

You must apply for jobs at all grades by an annual selection process known as an 'open competition', which involves a computer-based testing in your home country, and an assessment stage held in Brussels.

If you are successful at the assessment stage, you will be put on a reserve list for up to one year. Candidates from the reserve list can then be selected for interview when a suitable job comes up. See the European Personnel Selection Office website for more details.

If you are a graduate, you may be able to get useful work experience through the European Commission Traineeship Scheme, a five-month training and work placement programme. See the European Commission Traineeships Office website for more details.

Training and development

As a new staff member, you would have an intensive period of induction training. You will be able to take further training throughout your career to develop your language, management and communication skills.

Before your first promotion, you would need to demonstrate the ability to work in a third language.

You will also be encouraged to work in different departments and go on exchanges and secondments to other European Union institutions and governments.

Skills, interests and qualities

To be a European Union official, you should have:

  • a good knowledge of at least one EU language other than your own
  • excellent spoken and written communication skills
  • good presentation skills
  • drive and initiative
  • logical thinking and problem-solving ability
  • computer literacy
  • the ability to work with people of many different nationalities
  • an interest in current affairs.
  • Date published: 27th August 2013

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