Taking the first step
The application process for a position in one of the EU institutions or bodies varies according to the contract type. There are several categories (excluding freelance work) of work contracts: a permanent contract, a fixed-term contract and a temporary contract. There are also traineeships. You will find details on how to apply for any of these contract types and traineeships in this section.
For each contract type, there will be a set selection procedure to follow. Make sure to check on the deadlines given for each stage in the process, that you meet all the key qualifications for the post, if you need to complete a computer-based test, or attend an assessment centre. Once you have read about the various selection procedures you could try your hand at some of our Sample tests and find out about other sources of training and support. We wish you success!
Once you have selected the role for which you wish to apply, check the Notice of Competition to see who will manage your application. In most instances, namely for permanent roles and fixed-term contracts, the organisation responsible for managing your application will be the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). If this is the case, from submitting an online application to sitting a test in an Assessment Centre, EPSO will oversee the selection procedure and will be on hand to answer any queries that may arise along the way.
Each selection process has its own selection board, which is responsible for selecting candidates at each stage and for drawing up the final list of successful candidates. Each selection board is made up of officials from the EU Institutions and EPSO ensures that all selection boards strictly adhere to the procedures. The recruitment process also involves the HR services of the EU institutions that are responsible for the recruitment of successful candidates, i.e. filling specific job vacancies by hiring new employees from the lists of candidates maintained by EPSO. The Institutions interview potential employees before offering them a position.
If you are considering applying for a job at the EU institutions, take a look at the many different contract types that the EU offers before you start. Although permanent positions are possible to obtain, it may well be that a temporary contract is more suited to your ambitions and needs. Whatever the contract type associated to the position you are applying for, bear in mind that you will probably need to follow a competition procedure and that it may take a few months before you find out if you have been successful.
For more detailed information on recruitment, promotions, pay and benefits, see Staff Regulations.
- Permanent Official
Permanent contracts that enable you to become a member of the EU civil service are much sought after and are awarded after a rigorous open competition procedure. Within the EU civil service there are three types of permanent contract that can be awarded. The first is for administrators (AD), the second for assistants (AST), and the third for assistant-secretaries (AST/SC).
If you are employed as an administrator you will generally be involved in drafting policies, implementing EU law, analysis or advisory work. The policy sectors covered include administration, law, finance, economics, communications and science. Translators and interpreters are also recruited as administrators.
An administrator career ranges from grades AD 5 to AD 16, with AD 5 being the entry level grade for university graduates. Selection and recruitment may also be offered at higher grades AD 6 or AD 7 in more specialist roles, where the applicant will have to demonstrate several years' relevant experience. AD 9-AD 12 is middle management level. Selection/recruitment at these grades requires previous management experience.
If you are employed as an assistant at the EU institutions, you will typically be engaged in an executive or technical role in administration, finance, communication, research, or policy development and implementation.
An assistant career ranges from grades AST 1 to AST 11, with staff typically entering at grades AST 1-AST 3. As a minimum, an AST 1 candidate must have completed secondary education and have previous relevant experience, or have a relevant vocational qualification.
Secretaries/Clerks (may change depending on competition)
If you are employed as a secretary/clerk, you will generally be involved in office management or providing administrative support at the EU institutions.
A secretary/clerk career ranges from grade AST/SC1 to AST/SC6. New staff usually enter at grades AST/SC 1. As a minimum, an AST/SC1 candidate must have post-secondary education of at least 1 year attested by a diploma directly related to the nature of the duties, or secondary education attested by a diploma giving access to post-secondary education followed by at least 3 years' professional experience directly related to the nature of the duties, or professional training of at least 1 year, followed by a minimum of 3 years' professional experience. Both the training and experience must be directly related to the nature of the duties.
Benefits and salary
Basic monthly permanent official salaries range from around €2,300 per month for a newly recruited Assistant-Secretary (AST/SC 1) official to around €16,000 per month for a top level Administrator (AD 16 official) with more than 4 years of seniority. Each grade is broken up into five seniority steps with corresponding salary increases. Basic salaries are adjusted annually in line with inflation and purchasing power in the EU countries.
In addition, if you have left your home country to come and work for an EU institution, you are entitled to an expatriation allowance equivalent to 16% of your basic salary.
Some family-related allowances are available to permanent officials according to their family situation. These include a household allowance, a dependant child allowance, an educational allowance and a pre-school allowance.
As a European civil servant, your salary is not subject to national income tax. Instead, salaries are directly subject to a Community tax which is paid directly back into the EU's budget. This tax is levied progressively at a rate of between 8% and 45% of the taxable portion of your salary. An additional 'solidarity levy' is in place from 2014 to 2023.
How do I apply?
The EU institutions select candidates for permanent contracts through open competitions (published on this website). 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, prioritising and organising, resilience, working with others and in the case of graduates, leadership.
Applicants who pass a competition are placed on a reserve list from which the institutions draw recruits as and when they need them. The aim of a competition, then, is not to fill a specific post, but to constitute a reserve pool for recruitment needs as they arise.
The format of these competitions varies depending on the profile being sought.
Each competition is announced by a competition notice, giving full details of the profile, the eligibility criteria and the selection procedure.
Generally, it takes 5-9 months to complete the selection procedure, starting from the date of publication of the competition notice.
If you are one of the highest-scoring applicants in the assessment phase, you will be placed on the reserve list. This means you may be selected for a job interview at one of the EU institutions.
Reserve lists for generalist competitions are usually valid for 1 year. For other profiles, the length may vary. The validity of reserve lists can be extended.
- Contract staff
It is possible to work for the EU institutions on a fixed-term contract basis. Contract agents (known as CAST) are recruited to manual or administrative support-service tasks or to provide additional capacity in specialised fields where insufficient officials with the required skills are available. If you are successful in obtaining a contract, you will be employed for a fixed minimum period, often with a shorter initial contract of 6-12 months depending on the type of job. In some EU bodies, your contract could be extended for an indefinite duration.
Contract staff positions are available for a wide range of jobs, requiring different levels of qualifications. You should consider applying if your skills fulfil any of the following: manual and administrative work; clerical, secretarial or office management tasks; executive tasks, drafting, accountancy or equivalent technical tasks; administrative, advisory, linguistic and equivalent technical tasks.
How do I apply?
Contract staff are recruited from a pool of applicants (kept in a database) following a selection procedure usually organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO).
The selection procedure may include CV sifting, reasoning tests, and/or competency tests, that may be written, oral or other practical tests in the field.
Consult this website to enter the contract staff selection procedures, which are organised by EPSO.
- Temporary staff
You can be employed at the EU institutions on a temporary basis. Temporary posts are usually available in highly specialised fields such as scientific research.
How do I apply?
Selection and recruitment of temporary staff is generally run by individual EU institutions and agencies. Check regularly for news of current selections and vacancies on this website. You can also introduce your details into the EU CV online database.
- Interim staff and consultants
If you are interested in short-term work, contact our recommended temping agencies to find out more about short-term opportunities at the EU institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg. Interim staff are often needed in secretarial roles. Posts are rarely longer than 6 months in duration.
Some EU departments employ consultants directly through tendering procedures. For more information, please consult EU tenders and contracts.
Each year around 1,200 young people are offered the chance to increase their professional skills, develop their personal qualities, and enhance their EU knowledge through the EU trainee programmes. The European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the External Action Service, Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Ombudsman organise traineeships for young university graduates, each lasting 3-5 months. Trainees will all have completed their first university degree, and so receive tasks similar to those of the lower administrator grade officials.
Traineeships (or internships) are available in a wide range of fields and offer a great insight into the work of the EU. The content of the job largely depends on the service you are assigned to. Opportunities are available in the fields of competition law, human resources, environmental policy, communication and many more.
The majority of traineeships are paid, usually in the region of 1000€/month and are based in Brussels or Luxembourg.
How do I apply?
Selection procedures for traineeships are run by the individual EU institutions and agencies. Check our Quick Guide to EU traineeships for more information. Applications are usually online, but paper copies of the application form are sometimes required. In general, applications are accepted about four to nine months before the beginning of the traineeship and applications should be submitted in good time.
- Seconded national experts (SNEs)
Seconded national experts are national or international civil servants or persons employed in the public sector who are working temporarily for an EU Institution.
Most SNEs are nationals from a European or European Economic Area country, but in exceptional cases non-EU/EEA nationals can also be seconded to the Commission. You must have at least three years work experience at an appropriate level and your employer will need to supply the Commission with a statement of the nature of your employment over the previous year.
Your secondment can be for a minimum of six months and up to a maximum of four years in principle. You can return for a second period of secondment once an interval of at least 6 years has passed.
How do I apply?
Contact your country's permanent representation to the EU for information about current opportunities. For more information on the nature of the work of a seconded national expert, see Seconded National Experts.
- Parliamentary Assistants
If you are interested in becoming a parliamentary assistant to a Member of the European Parliament (based in Luxembourg, Brussels or Strasbourg), see the European Parliament's website for more information.
See also the individual websites of the Political Groups for information about their own recruitment procedures.
- Freelance linguists
A freelance career at the EU institutions is available to translators and interpreters.
How do I apply?
To become a freelance translator
- for the European Commission, please consult the notices of call for tenders.
- for the Court of Justice, please consult the contract notices.
To become a freelance interpreter at the European Commission, the European Parliament or the European Court of Justice, please see Interpreting for Europe.
- Junior Professionals in Delegation
The EU has Delegation offices around the world. Traineeships of up to 18 months are offered in the EU Delegations to give talented and promising university post-graduates the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the work of the Delegations, and a deeper insight into their role in the implementation of EU external relations policies. For more information, see the Junior Professionals in Delegation programme.
- EU experts
If you are an expert in an EU policy field, you can register your credentials with an experts' database maintained by an EU institution or agency. You will be invited to create a password-protected profile containing your details (contact details, specialisation, credentials, etc.). You can then be called on for specific tasks as needed.
See, for example:
- Maintenance and canteen staff
Certain categories of staff such as maintenance workers and canteen staff are recruited via external contracting companies. These contracts are awarded through open tender procedures. Check the contracting services for more information.