Blue Book trainees


Blue Book trainees… just what are they? Everyone speaks about them, but not everyone knows what that means. I did mention about them earlier in a post without defining the term.


Despite what you may think, Blue Book is not really a book, but a data base. It is the data base with the names and CVs of all the candidates who passed pre-selection. Their number cannot exceed 2,500. It goes without saying that there will be just as many CVs. Therefore, once your application passed eligibility and pre-selection, it means that it will enter the Blue Book data base. You will then be a Blue Book applicant (or candidate), but not a Blue Book trainee just yet.


Who has access to the Blue Book data base? All the services of the European Commission who are entitled to get a trainee. What they do is look on the CVs and select a candidate whose profile suits best the profile they need in their unit.


In reality, they don’t select just one person for the same position, but a few. They do some informal interviews by phone and then they make a final deliberation on who is going to get the job.


Of course, you can only be sure you got the internship when you receive the offer in your e-mail inbox (it is no longer sent via traditional mail), otherwise don’t take any promises for granted.


If you decide to accept the offer, then you become a Blue Book trainee. Your status will change from applicant/candidate to trainee in the Blue Book data base.


(As a parenthesis, it is likely that your profile matches the profile that a few of services are looking for. In that case, you may be informally contacted by all of them. However, you will only receive the offer from one. Just make sure you weigh all the propositions carefully and give the final answer to the one that truly interests you.)


Naming the official traineeship programme of the EC, Blue Book traineeships, makes it easier to distinguish it from other traineeships at the Commission, such as the so called atypical traineeships. Bear in mind though that, unlike Blue Book traineeships which are paid, the atypical traineeships are not.


Either way, don’t forget that the 8 months from the submission of your application cover several stages of the selection, namely eligibility, pre-selection, selection and final recruitment. You will only become a Blue Book trainee if you pass each of these stages and receive a formal recruitment offer from the Commission by e-mail.


22 Responses to “Blue Book trainees”

  • Michael:


    I am currently trying to get through the online application for the Blue Book trainee scheme at the EC. Your website has been very useful so far in terms of getting to know more about the application process and what it all consists of. I just had a quick question regarding the application. In one section of the application, it asks for our preferred employment area. These do not seem to be specific to any DG in particular and was wondering if there is at some stage during the application process, a way of selecting a preferred DG to work for?

    Thanks for your help.


    • adminchiara:

      Hi Michael,

      Unfortunately, choosing a specific DG is not possible anymore. That’s because a profile can match several DGs at the same time. For example, lawyers are not just wanted in the Legal Service or DG Competition. If you do have a preferred DG, maybe you could try to sneak in a sentence or two in the motivation.

      Good luck!

  • Alice:


    Thank you for all the information you share on this website.
    I have a couple of questions.

    Do you think I’d be allowed to apply for an internship in one of the representations of the EC, even if I’ve already done an internship as a Blue Book trainee?

    Which are exactly the services of the EC who are entitled to get a Blue Book trainee? Are they only in Brussels and Luxembourg, or in other European countries? I always thought they were the DGs and the executive agencies. But then I read on this website : “Brussels, Luxembourg, Member States capitals”. Does it mean that an internship in a representation must also be considered as a Blue Book stage?

    Thank you very very much for your help.

    • adminchiara:

      Hi Alice,

      Thanks for your questions. I hope I’ll be able to answer and clarify certain things for you.

      First, I’d like to point out that the European Commission has representation offices in all EU Member States. These offices are located in the capital-city of each EU Member State. Their role is to act as the eyes, years and mouth of the European Commission, in other words, to monitor public opinion and to give information on the EU in their host country. If you click on this link, you’ll be able to see all the Representations the European Commision has in the EU Member States:

      Secondly, these Representations are under the umbrella of DG COMM. This means that DG COMM recruits Blue Book trainees for its Representations. If you did a Blue Book stage in a Representation already, what other type of traineeship could you do there? Does the Representation offer other types of traineeships? You will have to check with the Representation itself if they allow you to do another traineeship.

      Thirdly, the European Commission is structured in more than 40 Directorates-General and Services. Each of them has a specific mandate. Most of them are located in Brussels, some are in Luxembourg, and others have also offices in the Members States capitals (e.g. DG COMM, ECFIN, SANCO, etc.). All of them (and I really mean ALL) are entitled to get Blue Book trainees.

      The European Commission promotes different types of traineeships. The most popular one is probably the Blue Book traineeship. Did you actually do a Blue Book traineeship in a Representation or was it something different? How were you recruited?

  • Alina:

    Hi there,

    I was wondering if you could explain the phase after pre-selection a bit more (or direct me to another place on your website which I might have missed). What I am interested in is the situation where you are contacted by more than one DG and the time frame after pre-selection.

    1. From what I understand you can only receive one offer, so how do you go about it if you’re approached by several? Will they be aware of this possibility and give you a deadline to give them your answer or?

    2. The email of beginning of November said they will get back to us beginning of December to let us know if we’ve passed the eligibility check, do you have an idea of the time frame for knowing if we have been selected by a DG? Here I am interested in both how long before DGs might start contacting us? and also from we have been contacted, how long before we know if we have made the final selection?

    3. What is your impression with regard to DGs contacting candidates for interviews, is this more the rule than the exception?

    4. Lobbying… Could you say more about this, and whether it is appreciated by the DGs or considered inappropriate?

    Thank you for a great website, definitely helped me when I wondered what it meant to have made it through pre-selection to a ‘blue book’.

    • adminchiara:


      Thank you for your questions. I’ll try to answer them the best I can (considering the process has somewhat changed). I did answer similar questions on older posts, but I’m afraid I accidentally deleted some comments and I can’t retrieve them.

      1. In the case you are approached by several DGs at the same time, you may tell all of them you’re interested and that you will consider their offer thoroughly. Make sure you ask for the name of the person who contacted you, in case you have to get in touch with them later by e-mail or phone. In principle, there shouldn’t be deadlines, but you have to make up your mind quick because DGs don’t like to wait. Also, they can’t know if you have already been contacted by someone else, unless you tell them yourself (which I wouldn’t advise). Assuming you are contacted by 3 DGs at the same time, see which one you suits best your professional interests and then confirm to them by e-mail/phone you want to be a trainee there. Do not forget that you cannot take for granted anything it’s said or written to you until you receive the offer. It’s literally a negotiating process. And yes, it can be only one offer from one DG.

      2. Once you find out if you passed eligibility, the Blue Book should come out. Then, you should be able to start lobbying and that’s when DGs should start contacting candidates. The selection virtually starts at that moment and it’s an ongoing process till the beginning of March (well, the bulk of it). In fact, the selection can go up to April for later recruitments. This is because there are always candidates who decline the offer, who change their minds, or who cannot start in March, and they have to be either replaced or to start later. The latest possible start for the traineeship is 1 May. For the autumn trainees, the calendar is different. As I said, the selection is an ongoing process, but the greatest number of trainees is recruited by mid-January the latest. That’s when you should receive the offer if you are selected. This is how it was done in the past at least. Hopefully, there won’t be other changes to confuse candidates even more. (Do take into account that the Commission is usually on a holiday from 24 December to 2 January, so you won’t be able to contact anyone during that time.)

      3. I couldn’t really say if it’s a rule or an exception. I’ve heard lots of different stories and that makes it difficult to have an opinion on the process.

      4. When you receive the e-mail confirming you passed the pre-selection, in that e-mail there’s a list of dedicated functional mailboxes from different DGs where you could lobby. At least, this is how it was done in the past. It means that, theoretically, the DGs which are not on that list, prefer not to be bothered. But that shouldn’t discourage you. Assuming your preferred DGs are not on that list, you can always find on google the repertoire of DGs with the staff and you can still send your CV and letter of motivation to the head(s) of unit(s) in your preferred DG(s). If they want to consider your e-mail, they will open it, if not they will delete it. So, if you want to make sure you have done everything within your power to get the traineeship, lobby included, then go for it.

      Hope you found this helpful. :-)

      I am aware my website needs a massive revamp, but I admit I don’t have time to do it. I like to think the content is more important than its visual aspect. Perhaps one day, when I have the time, I’ll make it prettier.

  • Cédric:


    I am currently completing an application for a blue book trainee and got a bit confused by the choice of area of expertise. Since this website already provided me with very helpful informations I will try my question here:

    I am a post graduate law student with a strong enphasis in human rights and international humanitarian law. From my background I would naturally choose “Legal” as area of expertise but I would like to work for DG ECHO or DEVCO as they are the most relevant from my specialization. However the description of area of expertise that include the humanitarian aid and follow up of international agreement is “External relations”.

    Does anyone know if DG ECHO access is restricted to “external relations” choices? Do they recruit any lawyer as trainee there? Should I put legal as expertise and write a clear motivation for DG ECHO?

    Thanks in advance for your helpful answers,


  • Benedetta:


    In 2010 I worked as an unpaid university Trainee for the Representation in Italy of the European Commission (Milan Office) for more than three months. Can I still be eligible for a traineeship (October 2015 session) at the European Commission?

    Thanks in advance for your clarification.


    • adminchiara:

      Sorry for the late reply but easy answer:

      No, you aren’t eligible to apply. The rule says that traineeships (paid or unpaid) longer than 6 weeks in any EU Institution/Agency automatically make you ineligible to apply.

  • Cori:


    Can a non-EU national apply for a trainee or any other position with the EC?

    Thank you

  • Alessandra Rozzato: Chiara,

    mi sono iscritta all’ECAS e vorrei che mi fornissi ulteriori informazioni (ad esempio l’età minima richiesta) riguardo la partecipazione alla selezione EC Traineeship.

    Distinti Saluti.

    Alessandra Rozzato

    • adminchiara:

      Dear Alessandra,

      There is no age limit to apply for the Blue Book traineeship. Details on how to apply for the traineeship are already posted on the blog. Is there anything in particular about the application and selection process that you would like me to clarify?

  • Carlos:


    I have been pre-selected for a traineeship with the European Commission for the October 2015 session and my application will be included in the Blue Book. Do you know when is the deadline to be definitely selected by any department? Maybe before the end of June?

    Thank you in advance!

    • adminchiara:

      Not necessarily the end of June. It may last all over the summer and sometimes, in case of late recruitment, it may go up to mid-October I think. Late recruitment means that you can start your traineeship later than the 1st of October. Late start dates can only be: the 16th of October, 1st of November, the 16th of November and the 1st of December the latest. Do note that if you start later, your traineeship will be shorter, as the end date of the traineeship is always the same: the last day of February.

  • Antigoni:

    I have been selected for a bluebook traineeship and I am required to accept the offer by the end of June.If later on I decide to withdraw from the realisation of the traineeship, would that mean than I am disqualified from applying again?
    Thank you

    • adminchiara:

      Not at all. You have the right to withdraw (for personal reasons) and you have the right to reapply. Nobody will question that.

  • Mary:

    I am a phd candidate in the sector of Human Rights, will it be good to mention that in the application? Or is it better to mention only the studies that i had already finished?
    Thank you

    • adminchiara:

      Yes, it should bring you extra points. You can mention it in the “ongoing studies” section.

      Good luck!


  • Antigoni:

    Thank you for your response!

  • Mary:

    Thank you!

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