Working in the EU institutions in Brussels
Working in an EU institution is what a lot of people associate when
thinking about work in Brussels. As a starting point, it is good to be
aware of the different institutions that are situated in Brussels.
Understanding the current number of staff members in these organizations
is also helpful in understanding the likelihood of finding a job there.
In total, there are around 40.000 people working in EU bodies in
As a rule of thumb, the bigger the institution, the more fluctuation and
the more likely it is to find a job there. The following table puts the
different institutions in terms of staff members.
Number of staff members in the different EU institutions
|Institution ||Staff members based in Brussels|
|European Commission ||21.500|
|European Parliament ||8.000|
|Council of the European Union ||3.000|
|European External Action Service ||2.000|
|The European Economic and Social Committee ||700|
|Committee of the Regions ||500|
|European Data Protection Supervisor ||100|
Jobs in the European Commission
The commission is the biggest employer of the EU institutions. As of
January 2021, the commission employed around
32.000 staff members, 21.500 of which are located in Brussels.
The European Commission offers
multiple routes to becoming employed
and offers great detail on the
application procedures for the different employment types. The different employment types and how they impact you are outlined
If you're interested in working in the European Commission, their
job overview page
is a great place to start.
Jobs in the European Parliament
The European Parliament employs around 8.000 staff members directly, of
around 5.000 are based in Brussels. In addition to these 5.000 directly employed staff members, there are
up to 2.800 assistants to the 700 members of the European Parliament.
You can find out more about these assistant positions
Jobs in the Council of the European Union
The Council of the EU is the smallest of the three main institutions,
around 3.000 employees in Brussels. Most of these vacancies are filled by permanent officials. We have
described further below
how to become a permanent official for the EU.
Jobs in smaller bodies of the EU
There are a range of smaller and affiliated bodies to the EU. These
include, among others, the European External Action Service (EEAS,
around 2.000 staff members), the European Economic and Social Committee (ECSC,
around 700 staff members), the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Data Protection
Supervisor (EDPS, around 100 staff members in Brussels).
Employment types in EU institutions
There are a lot of different ways to finding employment within the EU.
The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), which streamlines most
of the staffing, has a good
summary of the different ways forms of employment and their
requirements on their website. All jobs that are published by EPSO can be found on
their website. You can also find some upcoming job opportunities in the EU on a
- Permanent staff member
- Contract staff
- Temporary staff
- Interim staff
- Traineeships and Internships
- Assistant to an MEP
- Working for a political group
Become a permanent staff member through the "Concours"
The concours is the most "traditional" way of becoming a
permanent official in an EU institution. Unlike with traditional, you do
not apply to a specific position, but rather to become a generalist. If
you successfully pass the concours, you are added to a reserve list for
a period of 1 year, from which the different institutions can draw
The concours is a highly competitive selection procedure that takes
around 5-9 months and that is organized by EPSO. It consists of a series
of tests and interviews, as described by EPSO on their
The first round of tests you will be called on to complete will be
computer-based and will comprise aptitude and ability psychometric
exercises. If you are successful in these tests, you will then be called
to an assessment centre where you will be expected to complete a number
of work-related exercises in a group environment and before at least two
assessors. The skills you will be assessed on broadly cover the
following core competencies required by the EU institutions: analysis
and problem-solving, communicating, delivering quality and results,
learning and development, prioritizing and organizing, resilience,
working with others and in the case of graduates, leadership.
If you'd like to take the concours, a
is available to get a first understanding of the type of qualifications
required. In preparation for the concours, most EU member states are
very supportive and provide additional information and tips on how to
successfully pass the concours.
A somewhat easier and shorter way of getting a position in an EU
institution is by becoming a contract staffer. These are positions that
are fixed in time, often times with a short initial contract period of
6-12 months. Depending on the EU institution, there is a limit on how
many years in total you can work there.
Contract staff positions are filled in a more traditional sense, in that
you apply for a specific position that you are interested in. Based on
the applications, individual applicants are recruited. The application
procedure is a much shortened version of the concours and differs from
position to position, as
outlined by EPSO:
The selection procedure may include CV sifting, reasoning tests, and/or
competency tests, that may be written, oral or other practical tests in
Open contract staff positions can be found on the EPSO job board.
Salary for EU contract staff
Below are the starting salaries for contract agents of the EU based on a
40 hours working week (as of 01.07.2020):
Salary grid for contract agents in the EU (source)
|Function Group ||Grade ||Salary Range|
|Function Group IV ||13-18 ||€3.555,98 - €6.593,66|
|Function Group III ||8-12 ||€2.777,78 - €4.552,18|
|Function Group III ||4-7 ||€2.169,66 - €3.142,81|
|Function Group I ||1-3 ||€2.088,92 - €2.672,85|
Next to the contract agent, the temporary agent is another form of
temporary contract. This type of contract is far less common than the
contract agent contract type. It is typically used for very highly
specialized tasks, such as conducting a piece of research.
If you have recently graduated from university or are about to graduate,
there are multiple traineeships offered in the different European
institutions. Each year, a total of around 1.900 traineeships are on
offer at the different institutions. We've compiled a list of the
most significant traineeship programs internship and traineeship
opportunities in the EU institutions below. EPSO also has
a comprehensive list of all traineeships
that are offered by all institutions
Working as an assistant (APA) to a Member of the European Parliament
Each MEP has several assistants. In the current legislative period,
there are 705 MEPs. Each MEP can have up to 4 assistants, meaning that
there are up to 2820 assistants.
Naturally, most fluctuation happens around the election, when a lot of
MEPs change. The last election took place in 2019, the next election
will be in the spring of 2024.
During the legislative period, there is of course also a certain degree
of fluctuation. For instance, if there are national elections in a
country, it might happen that an MEP changes from the European
Parliament to his or her national parliament. This of course also
results in assistant positions opening up.
The requirements for positions and the selection of applicants is done
by each MEP individually. Unlike with most other positions in the EU
institutions, there is no concours required. Most commonly, APA
positions are filled by candidates from the home country of the MEP, or
who at least speak the same language as the MEP. If you are looking for
an APA position, it makes thus sense to start the search among the MEPs
that represent your home country.
APA positions can generally be found through the websites of the MEPs.
The salary grid for APAs at the European Parliament can be found below.
Note that actual salaries can be higher, as it just shows the base
salary and does not include possible recent indexations. The typical
grade that is applied is between 7 and 10.
Salary grid for APAs in the European Parliament
|Grid position ||Full-time basic salary|
Working for a political group in the European Parliament
In addition to working as an assistant to an individual MEP, it is also
possible to work for the
political groups that are present in the European Parliament.
Similar to the institutions, the bigger the group, the more fluctuation
there tends to be.
Internship and traineeship opportunities in the EU institutions
There are internship and traineeship opportunities in almost all EU
institutions. As mentioned above, you can find a
comprehensive list of the internships that are offered
on the EPSO website. Below is a short summary of the main internships,
- Blue Book traineeships at the European Commission
- Schuman Traineeship at the European Parliament
European Commission Traineeship: Blue Book
Blue Book traineeship programme, the European Commission offers around 650 individuals a 5-months paid
traineeship at the Commission. The monthly allowance is around 1.200
Euros with an additional travel allowance.
Application deadlines are typically in January and August of a given
year, with the January applicants starting their traineeship in October,
and the August applicants in March of the following year.
Blue book traineeship periods and application deadlines
|Traineeship period ||Applications open ||Starting date|
|March traineeship ||July-August ||01. March|
|October traineeship ||January ||01. October|
Blue Book page of the Commission
is quite extensive and offers ample details on the application procedure
and requirements. ECA Maastricht also has a good,
on the Blue Book traineeships.
European Parliament Traineeship: Schumann
traineeship program of the European Parliament is called
Schuman traineeship. There are usually around 400 to 500 open traineeship positions per
period. The traineeship period is 5-month, during a which a monthly
allowance of around 1.300 Euros is paid.
Schuman traineeship periods and application deadlines
|Traineeship period ||Application deadline ||Starting date|
|March traineeship ||31. October ||01. March|
|October traineeship ||31. May ||01. October|
Junior Professional Programme
Every two years, the
European External Action Service and the European Commission run the
Junior Professional Programme. The programme consists of a 12-months traineeship, which can be
extended for another 12-months. For the 2021-2023 period, at least 54
positions were being offered (two per member state). The next Junior
Professional Programme will most likely run from 2024-2026.
Find out more about the programme