Traineeships in Brussels! Join the Community of International Trainees

Traineeship in European structures – be it a good career starter or just a few-months adventure, it certainly can be a unique life and work experience. What for? To get an understanding of how European structures work, to learn how European environmental policy is being created and finally, yes, to experience the unique atmosphere of Brussels’s multicultural mash-up.

Brussels is a veritable ocean of traineeship opportunities (so-called internships, or stages). The French word stagiaire, meaning “trainee” or “intern,” has been become a permanent fixture in Brussels’s professional jargon. The stagiaires have their own communities, events, parties, and networks.

Why is it important?

In terms of environmental issues, more and more policies and regulations are being created on the European level and are then implemented in the member states. Therefore, for someone interested in environmental policy, understanding how European Institutions work may be extremely helpful knowledge. It is worth realizing that the European policy-making process is much more complex than “those goddam bureaucrats from Brussels made something up again” and that each policy is the result of a careful and subtle interplay between all of the various stakeholders.

How to search for a traineeship?

  • The first thing to keep in mind when searching for a traineeship is that you do not need to restrict yourself to purely environmental institutions and departments. Green issues are present in many other fields, such as energy, transportation, development, agriculture and health, just to name a few. Therefore, don’t just limit yourself to a handful of organizations, but think more broadly instead. Even purely administrative tasks can give you a good understanding of how a particular institution functions.

There are several means of arranging a traineeship in a European institution. Below are a few examples, however you may come up with some good ideas yourself:

  • You can apply to an official traineeship with the European Commission or the European Parliament, which lasts six months. You should check the application deadlines (which are twice a year) and the types of interships offered (there are paid and unpaid options) on the official websites of the European Commission and European Parliament.Different institutions may have different rules and terms.
  • In the European Parliament, you can also arrange a traineeship within the staff of a chosen political group or directly in the office of a particular Member of the European Parliament (MEP). In this case, the rules are established by the party or the particular MEP, so traineeship length and other conditions will depend on your individual agreement. If you are still studying you could consider a few-week traineeship as part of your designated coursework. It may be helpful to investigate which MEP is involved in topics which interest you by checking which parliamentarian committee he/she is a member of. You can also look to see if the political agenda of any particular group involves topic which interest you. The group which is most broadly focused on green topics is The Greens/EFA, however all parties have environmental issues on their agenda and it’s worth investigating each.
  • Another option would be to consider a “study visit,” meaning a short-term visit done in order to gather research material for your thesis, assignment or any other project, rather than going in for a full-scale internship. For example, in the European Parliament there is the possibility to arrange a study visit of one month, during which you can enter the Parliament building, access particular resources, meet with your interviewees, arrange new contacts, etc.
  • The fact that a particular institution hasn’t published official terms for internships and study visits on their website doesn’t mean that you can’t contact them directly and try to arrange one yourself.
  • Furthermore, there are many European agencies located outside of Brussels in other cities all over Europe. In every member state there are nationally-based institutions connected with the EU, and MEPs have their local offices in their countries of origin.
  • Another tip would be to find out if your city or region has a representative in Brussels and try to contact them.
  • Besides official EU institutions, dozens of industrial associations, consultancies, regional representations and NGOs have their headquarters in Brussels. Finding your ideal traineeship opportunity there is just a matter of creativity and persistence. We will deal with these sorts of organizations in a separate article.

Where to search?

Below, you can find direct links to information about traineeships in chosen EU’s structures. Apart from the suggested websites, there are many more options you can investigate; feel free to share your own ideas with us as well!

European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/stages/index_en.htm

European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparliament/en/007cecd1cc/Traineeships.html

Council of the European Union: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/contacts/traineeships-office?lang=en

Council of Europe: http://www.coe.int/t/JOBS/traineeship_en.asp

European Economic and Social Committee: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.traineeships

Committee of the Regions: http://cor.europa.eu/en/about/traineeships/Pages/cor-traineeship.aspx

European Investment Bank (Luxemburg): http://www.eib.org/about/jobs/working/internships/index.htm

European Central Bank: http://www.ecb.int/ecb/jobs/apply/html/index.en.html

European Chemicals Agency (Helsinki): http://echa.europa.eu/web/guest/traineeships-vacancies

Court of Justice of the European Union (European Court of Justice): http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/Jo2_7008/

European Court of Auditors: http://eca.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/aboutus/workingatthecourtofauditors/Traineeship

European Ombudsman: http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/recruit/en/default.htm

Chosen permanent national representations in Brussels:

Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the European Union (Stálé zastoupení České republiky při Evropské unii): http://www.mzv.cz/representation_brussels/cz/evropska_unie/zamestnani_v_institucich_a_agenturach/index.html

Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the European Union in Brussels (Stałe Przedstawicielstwo Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej przy Unii Europejskiej w Brukseli): http://www.brukselaeu.polemb.net/?document=97  (Suitable also for students)

Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the European Union (Stále zastúpenie Slovenskej republiky pri Európskej únii): http://www.mzv.sk/App/WCM/ZU/BruselEU/main.nsf/vw_ByID/index_SK

Short-term study visits in chosen institutions:

European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparliament/en/002084aa7c/Study-visits.html

Committee of the Regions: http://cor.europa.eu/en/about/traineeships/Pages/short-term-study-visits.aspx

Jobs in environmental policy: www.ecojobs.cz/en/tag/environmental-policy/

Good luck!