Heads of unit are the backbone of the European Commission. To be a Head of Unit, in addition to specialist knowledge and skills and a good general education, you must also have the leadership qualities needed to motivate and guide people and encourage teamwork. You will have to set out and revise the objectives and targets of your staff within the work plans and overall strategy of your Directorate-General. You will also have to fix objectives for your Unit and monitor and evaluate your Unit's progress in attaining them. Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate and negotiate are also vital.
Directors-General, Deputy Directors-General, Directors and Principal Advisers are the senior officials at the Commission. Directors-General are the top-level EU civil servants reporting directly to the Commissioner responsible for the policy area covered by their Directorate-General (DG). Directors, report to Directors-General, and are responsible for entire Directorates consisting of 3 to 7 units (around 100 officials).
The Commission's middle management vacancies are usually filled by people already working as Commission civil servants. However, the Commission does occasionally appoint external applicants to Head of Unit posts when it is approriate to do so. For example, for the enlargement of the EU on 1st May 2004, competitions were organised to select external candidates from the new EU countries for Head of Unit posts to ensure that these nationalities are fairly represented at middle management level in the European Institutions.
If you want to apply for a Head of Unit post, you will need to meet the minimum requirements for all grades from AD 9 to AD 14 and to have specific expertise related to the job(s) in question. These requirements vary according to the grade for which the competition is published, but they include the need to be qualified in specific fields and to have professional experience, normally between 10 and 15 years, giving you clear expertise in a given field of Commission policy or activity.
You will find more details on specific requirements in the competition notice announcing the competition you want to apply for, as published in the Official Journal. See if there are open vacancies available.
As for middle management posts, vacant senior management posts are generally open only to internal candidates. However, in order to give the Commission a broad choice of candidates, vacancies are sometimes published externally.
Like middle-managers, senior managers in the Commission should possess a
high level of qualifications, professional experience and demonstrable
expertise, but there is a greater emphasis on experience and seniority in your
In exceptional circumstances, management posts can be filled by recruiting a temporary agent. See if there are any open vacancies available.
Whenever a post becomes vacant and it has been decided to publish this externally, all the information, including the electronic application forms, can be found on this website:
The announcements are also published in the Official Journal.
To find out how the recruitment process works and how senior managers are selected and appointed, see the guidelines for candidates.
Heads of Unit can occupy grades AD 9 to AD 14 in the career structure of the European Institutions. Directors can occupy grades AD 14 and AD 15 while Directors-General can occupy grades AD 15 and AD16.
The recent administrative Reform of the Commission has had an impact on the careers of middle and senior managers. Senior managers now have to change their jobs every five years (except in exceptional circumstances) and Heads of Unit are also encouraged to look for a new post in the Commission every five years. The set of skills that all managers should have has been made clear. Better and regular performance appraisals for middle and senior managers have also been introduced. These changes mean that it is now possible to continue up the career ladder if you are a middle or senior manager, as promotions within the rank of Director and Director-General are now possible.
Middle managers (grades AD 9 to AD 14) can have a basic salary of approximately between € 6,200 and €13,100 depending on their grade and seniority step while senior managers (AD 14 to AD 16) can earn roughly between €11,500 and €14,800. For more details, see the salary table in Article 66 of the Staff Regulations [15 KB] .
Basic salaries are adjusted annually in line with inflation and purchasing power in the EU countries. The salary and other benefits available to managers follow the same rules as those for other European civil servants. For more information, see the section Permanent Officials.