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16 March: the starting point for a career with the EU
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The News

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is launching its annual competition for career opportunities with the European institutions [1] on 16 March. The competition is open to EU citizens from all member states. To apply, all you need is any class of bachelor's degree completed by 31 July 2011 and knowledge of French or German. This means that, this year, undergraduates in their final year of study can apply.

    16 March: the starting point for a career with the EU

    The Background

    With around 70% of drafting carried out in English, first language English speakers are in high demand in the EU. A recent poll by the UK Foreign Office showed that although a majority of university students would consider the EU civil service as an option, a staggering 80% of them don't know how to apply.

    The application process is in three stages. The candidates first register online and once the online application form has been accepted, they take a series of computer-based cognitive tests (numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning, and situational judgement tests). Those with the best scores are then invited to an assessment centre in the autumn, and anyone who gets through could be starting their new career by the beginning of next year.

    In the last round of recruitment, UK citizens made up less than 1.5% of applicants, and just seven were successful. Under-representation of Britons within the EU civil service is a growing problem, and that’s why the UK Government has  been running a campaign to increase the number  of British citizens applying to work for the EU.

    Europe Minister David Lidington said:
    “The EU needs outstanding generalist civil servants from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, as well as specialists such as lawyers, economists, auditors, interpreters and statisticians. These are careers packed from the outset with interesting, challenging work that really makes a difference: shaping the policies, creating the legislation and negotiating the solutions which make the headlines across Europe every day. More importantly, thanks to the work the EU has done to improve the selection procedure, students can now apply in their final year of study, and can expect the whole process to last around 9 months, compared to the two years it used to take. I would strongly encourage all students and professionals who might be interested in an EU career to apply".

    The people

    British people who successfully applied to work in the EU institutions are overwhelmingly positive about their careers. A selection of what they say:

    Rosie ter Beek (Translator in the European Commission) “The Commission is a dynamic place to work, and the opportunities to shape your career are endless. Brussels is also a vibrant, cosmopolitan place to live, full of interesting, outgoing people from all over Europe, with an excellent quality of life and a chocolate shop on every corner!”

    Ian Vollbracht (Cabinet Member for Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in the European Commission) “This is not a place where you need to spend the whole of your career in the same area or role. Brussels is a creative and dynamic environment, and there is huge variety available to you if you want it.”

    Nikolas Lane (Acting Director for Presidency Services in the European Parliament) “Politics and policy, an international environment and an interesting employer – those were boxes that I ticked when I decided I wanted an EU career. They’d be my boxes today and I’d still tick them.”

    Chantal Hughes (Commissioner Michel Barnier’s Spokesperson in the European Commission) “The biggest opportunity my career has given me is the ability to do a wide variety of jobs […] If you’re interested in public affairs and enjoy a multicultural environment, then I would say consider this option seriously.”

    To arrange interviews – written or audiovisual – please contact the European Commission London press office on 020 7973 1898, or the FCO Press Office on 020 7008 3100

    [1] European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Ministers of the European Union and various other agencies and bodies

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    Last update: 14/03/2011  |Top