EC Traineeship – Online Application – NEWS!

what is new from TO


What’s new from the Traineeship Office? It seems that 2013 is the year of refreshments. A new website and now new online forms and… surprise, surprise… no more paper file to be sent by post to the Traineeship Office. Yes, you read that correctly! As from the March 2014 application session, it is no longer required to mail your application by post to the Traineeship Office.


But don’t get excited so fast! You will still have to mail copies of your diplomas, language certificates and other proofs later on, if and only if you pass the pre-selection. Once you pass the pre-selection, you will be required to mail them to the Traineeship Office.


Let’s just say that now the process has become easier for you as you’ll have more time to collect all the proofs you need to justify whatever you declared in your application. And it’s all written on the Traineeship Office website.


I decided to fill in a mock application to see how it goes. First things first, you’ll have to create an account with an ECAS password where you save your personal data and application. The first menu is the one related to “personal data” (full name, birth date, nationality, etc.). Not so much different from before.


As you save your data, there will be a button just below that says Click here to access the application form. Click on it and you will be further taken to a page where you have to choose the type of traineeship you apply for. It’s either “administrative” or “translation”.


After the selection of your traineeship, you are redirected towards a page with a very intuitive menu. The structure of the former form has remained virtually the same. You have: contact details, educational background, professional experience, languages, skills and motivation.


I noticed though that the Skills section has a “communication and organisational” sub-section where you’ll have to describe “your main strengths in terms of communication and organisational skills” (obviously). Now, not all of you may have such skills as not all of you may have had a previous work experience. Even so, assuming you didn’t work at all in an “institutionalised” environment, you still must have contributed to a group assignment during your university studies, or maybe you volunteered somewhere, or maybe you were a member of the student union, examples are countless. Think about it and try to twist those experiences to your favour.


The Motivation section is also slightly different. There’s still a general motivation part, where you have to explain “why you are applying for a traineeship at the European Commission, what your expectations are and why you think that you are a good candidate.” I’ve already discussed about this in my previous posts and comments, so browse through.


Then, you have to select an “area of interest” from a drop-down menu. This area of interest is pretty much related to what you studied and the field you wish to work in as a Blue Book trainee at the European Commission. There is also a list that can help you get a better idea, which I am pasting here, but it’s also available right on the motivation page.


Please note that you will have to motivate your choice of “area of interest”, but also you’ll have to describe why you consider your profile suitable for this area. These are two different motivations related to your “area of interest”. Make sure you know exactly what you want to do in terms of professional career and make sure you know how to put that into words.


Once you filled in all the fields of the online form, I suggest you save the form and you let it rest for a day or two. After that you can come back and re-read it, ensuring yourselves that there are no mistakes (spelling-wise, or simple data entries for your studies, etc.). Maybe you get inspired more if you let it rest and then you can improve your motivations with fresh ideas. And even if you don’t have time to let it rest, then still re-read it and when you’re sure it’s all perfect, click the submit button. That’s when you’ll receive a registration number and when you’ll be able to keep a pdf copy of your application. Keep that registration number as you will refer to it in the future.


Please see the Traineeship Office website for more technical details about the submission of your application.


If you have anything to add or if I’ve missed anything, please leave a comment. I’d appreciate it. Bonne chance! 😉


34 Responses to “EC Traineeship – Online Application – NEWS!”

  • Lesly Castro:

    Hello! thanks for all the important post here. I was wondering if you know if its possible to select more than one area of interest in the online application form. I am.interested in the projects and programs area, but im not quite sure if i only select that area, i.will be considered for other areas/offices?

    I am.also curious about your experience after the traineeship? what happened with ur professional life? in terms of competitiveness and professional development, do you think the traineeship helped you increase your job opportunities? What do you do now?

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Btw, I am a non-european citizen (from Honduras), did you meet some non-european trainees? which directorates were they mainly assigned to? what is your advice for non-european applicants?

    • adminchiara:

      Hola Lesly!

      As far as I know, you can currently select only 1 area of interest. In the past you could choose up to 3 DGs, but this changed and now you have to choose 1 area of interest.

      You have to understand that both policies and programmes are 2 very broad areas. The difference between them is that one is quite abstract (policies), while the other is very concrete (programmes). So, you’ll have to ask yourself which one you’d like to deal with most, abstract or concrete? Certainly, there’s pros and cons on each side. Each DG is involved in policy development within its own mandate and most of the DGs (not sure if all) also run programmes. For example, DG EAC (Education and Culture) is responsible of the policies in the field of education and culture, but at the same time runs programmes in these specific fields. Within DG EAC, some departments deal with the policies and others with the programmes. It’s pretty much the same in the other DGs. That’s the simplistic way of describing what actually happens.

      If you decide to apply for the policies area, it may happen that several DGs could become interested in you (if you are pre-selected and if you have the profile they look for). The same logic applies if you decide to go for the programmes area. I can’t really tell you which one is better, because they are both equally interesting in their own way. Something else to consider is which of the two areas – policies vs. programmes – would give you better chances/opportunities to find a job afterwards. So, think it through!

      As for my post-traineeship experience, all I can say is that, in my case the traineeship helped a lot to do what I was planning to do. It may not be the case of every trainee, but in my case it did increase my chances to develop a better professional career. In fact, it’s a mix of factors and I think on the one hand, luck is one of them, but on the other hand networking and visibility are equally important. Your level of professionalism and they way other people perceive you throughout the internship are also key factors. Letters of recommendation = added value to your CV. So, my advice is to network, to make yourself visible, to do the best that you can do at work (and more!), to be alert and seize the opportunities as they come.

      I did meet non-European trainees (I am European). Some decided to stay because Brussels has lots to offer in terms of professional/academic pursuit, others decided to come back because they wanted to make a difference in their own native countries, and others decided to go elsewhere in the world. But I think for almost all of them the traineeship was a mind/road-opener and a great way to evolve, to become better, to look for better.

      Don’t be afraid to take risks, be wise, keep your mind open, learn and disfrute!

      • Lesly:

        Hello Adminchiara!

        Thanks for answering!! Your answers have been very useful. I am currently working hard on my motivation for the traineeship and would like to ask for your advice.

        As I mentioned in my previous post and as you specified, now we can only choose one area of interest, not the Directorate General. Well, the area I am most interested about is the “PROGRAMMES, PROJECTS, ACTIONS & FUNDS”, which online it is described as follows:

        Implement Community / EU policies by managing, preparing, developing, negotiating, supervising, co-ordinating, executing and evaluating the full cycles of programmes, actions and projects in partnership with Member States or third countries or under the direct responsibility of the Commission, from contributing to the development of a work-programme to the exploitation and dissemination of results. The work includes:

        1. Contribute to the preparation of decisions allowing the Commission to approve programmes and projects.
        2. Contribute to the strategy and policy development of programmes, actions and funds.
        3. Manage the financing agreements, the preparation of work-programmes and working documents, the calls for proposals and tenders.
        4. Evaluate proposals for programmes and projects.
        5. Negotiate, prepare and award programme and project contracts.
        6. Monitor the execution of contracts in programmes and projects.
        7. Evaluate programmes and projects impact and results and provide feedback for policy decision.
        8. Set-up, prepare and assure the secretariat of Management Committees representing Member States in Community programmes and projects, as well as consultative networks.
        9. Represent the Commission in committees dealing with programmes and projects.
        10. Participate in exchanges and consultations with specialised organisations, associations, societies or fora.
        11. Promote and monitor the exploitation and dissemination of programmes and projects results.

        As of your answer to my post: “Each DG is involved in policy development within its own mandate and most of the DGs (not sure if all) also run programmes…”, that means that, if I write my “motivation” based on the “PROGRAMMES, PROJECTS, ACTIONS & FUNDS description”, I could be contacted by any DG that is formulating policy/running programmes?.

        To be more specific, I am highly interested in the “EuropeAID DG” and I would like to potentially do the traineeship there. So I am not quite sure if I should mention that specific DG in my motivation, or should I leave it open to any others?.

        Since there is no option to choose a specific DG(s) anymore, I am afraid that if I mention in my motivation that I am interested in the EuropeAID DG only, I might not be considered by another DG.

        Looking forward for your replay and thanks in advance!

        Lesly C.

        • adminchiara:

          Dear Lesly,

          Indeed, if you select the “programmes” area of interest, there is a chance that you may be contacted by different DGs running programmes (regardless of the type of programmes).

          But, if you want to be a bit more specific about your choice, you could write in the motivation related to the area of interest that cooperation programmes are your main point of interest (without excluding other opportunities in other fields). At least I would do that if I were you. I would say I’m interested in this area and more specifically in that subject because… etc. You don’t have to write the name of DEVCO, but you can neutrally state the type of programmes that make the object of your interest, mentioning of course the fact that other type of programmes could be just as an interesting opportunity to explore and you explain why (you don’t want to limit your options to DEVCO only). Surely, your motivation has to be very elaborate, clear and to the point. Don’t copy/paste what I just wrote above. It’s only a baseline.

          Hope I have managed to answer your question.

  • Davide:


    Your blog is tremendously helpful, thank you for putting it together! I have a question about degrees from non-EU universities. I’m European, but I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree from a U.S. college. Will I have to submit additional documents along with a copy of my degree, in order to prove its authenticity?

    More specifically, I wonder whether I will have to submit “certificates of validity” issued by consulary authorities in the U.S., or other documentation that certifies my degree is authentic. The degree scroll itself is written in English.

    • adminchiara:

      Thanks, Davide.

      No, you don’t have to show any “authenticity” proofs. The degree is in English anyway (which is one of the official languages of the EU) and the American educational system is pretty much similar to the European one. I know former trainees with degrees from the US who never had to prove their authenticity.

      On the other hand, just a quick reminder that at this stage it’s no longer required to send your paper application to the Traineeship Office (see my latest post). Everything is done electronically. So, you should take this load off your shoulders.

      Good luck with the application!

  • EP:

    I have a questions concerning the application, I would very much appreciate it if you could give me your opinion on this one. In the section skills there’s a part where the application asks for “Papers or publications on EU issues”. Does this only refer to papers that were really published? As I’m a student none of my work got published (yet? 😉 ), but should I still mention that I wrote my master’s thesis and a couple of seminar papers on EU related topics?
    thank you for taking the time to answer!

    • adminchiara:


      Yes, if I were you I would mention them, even if they are not published. After all, it’s part of your interests and work as a student, so they do matter. I’m sure the pre-selection board will appreciate that.

      Good luck!

  • Alessandro:


    first of all thanks for all this unvaluable information.
    I didn’t have the time to browse all the contents for this question so sorry if you already replied somewhere, but I’d like to know if they make some kind of database of the failed application and if yes, are they gonna use it for a future comparison?
    I don’t have any language certificate right now, neither I have completed my MA, so I don’t think I could have good chances at the moment. Do you think it would be better waiting for the next round or should I send the application anyway?
    I don’t want to compromise my future chance, which I think could be much better!

    Thank you very much.

    • adminchiara:


      You can apply for the traineeship as many times as you want without any fear. There is no such thing as a database of failed applications. It would be virtually impossible to develop one because it would mean to keep track of thousands of people and that’s not an objective goal. The goal is to give the opportunity of the traineeship to as many young people as possible. :-)

      You don’t necessarily need a language certificate per se. If you studied English or French or German in school (university, high-school, etc.) and if you can prove that, then you can apply. I did speak about this topic several times and people asked me about it several times. Try to use the search button with key words to get to those topics. I hope it works.

      Also, you don’t necessarily need a Master’s degree. Certainly, it can increase your general score if you had this degree, but with a BA you should be fine.

      Either way, if you feel anxious to apply, you can give it a try just to see how it is. If you feel like waiting so you can improve things, then wait.

      • Alessandro:

        Grazie Chiara!

        I feel encouraged now, I think I will definetely give a shot.
        If I’ll get good news, you’ll be the first who knows it 😀

        • adminchiara:

          In bocca al lupo! 😉

          • Alessandro:


            I wonder if I can ask you something else, I hope I’m not bothering you (and this time I extensively looked for it in your blog via google, where is your search function?).

            When compiling my educational background section, I get a little bit puzzled by the fields major subject and main subject, what do they mean?

            I’m trying to input my bachelor’s degree in European Studies (Political Science), and since there’s the option “European Studies” in the “Field of Study” menu, I basically got stuck.

            I hope this information could be useful for all the first-timers of this application, especially Italians.
            Thanks again!

          • adminchiara:

            I added a search button on the blog, so if you type in “language skills”, you’ll get all the posts containing that topic. Also, look in the comments because there’s quite a few related to this topic.

            Major subject should be Political Science and main subject should be European Studies, in my opinion. As far as I remember, the menus are already set, all you have to do is select whatever field suits you. Maybe you’re experiencing problems with your browser…

  • Alessandro:

    Firefox is fine, maybe I’m not :)

    So would you select Field of study –> European Studies, Major subject –> Political Science and Main –> European Studies? It makes little sense to me but I blindly trust your verdict 😀

    Thanks again.

  • Miss Undecided:

    First of all, thank you very much for your incredibly useful blog :)
    I am preparing my application at the moment and I have a doubt I hope you can enlighten (fingers crossed). I have a legal background (BA and LLM) but I’m also very interested about External Relations and I’d love to work in something that could combine both. Do you believe that it is too risky to choose External Relations as a field (because there is no such thing as the possibility I dream about or because I’m not the typical profile)? I don’t really know what to do…

    Many thanks!

    • adminchiara:


      Sorry to be relying so late, but I’ve been having some problems with my computer.

      With a legal background, it might be indeed risky to change the profile. What you could do though is write in the motivation that, regardless of your degrees in the legal field, you’d like to pursue a career in the external relations and then you develop motivating why you would want to have a two-fold professional experience.

      Or the extreme way is to apply for the external relations profile and justify why you want to work there although you have a legal background.

      Whatever approach you choose, extreme or not, you will still have to motivate your choice and why you want to combine the experience in the two fields. I think the motivation should not be too difficult because these two are, in a way, complementary fields.

    • adminchiara:


      Sorry to be replying this, but I had to fix my computer (which stopped cooperating) and that took a while.

      I think you don’t have to mention the recommendation letters anywhere on the online form. You will have to send the paper copy of these letters if your application makes it the pre-selection stage and the Traineeship Office invites you to send your paper file for the eligibility check.

      So, keep them safe till pre-selection. 😉

  • Madi:


    I have a question concerning the letters of recommendation. How can we address them now with the new application system?? Since it is online, everything is fixed so I don’t know where should I add my recommendation letters, maybe I should not include any mention to then because I don’t know where to do so :S

    Do you have any ideas/suggestions?

    Thank you so much, your blog has been very useful to me!

  • Ingrid:

    Hi Chiara!

    Your blog is amazing and really useful.

    I do have a question that maybe you are able to answer. I am preparing my application for October 2014 and I have doubts regarding the area of interest. My area of studies is law but I would like to focus my career towards policies, more preciesely in an area in which I have specialized through my Master. Nevertheless I am not sure if it is better to choose Legal as my area of interest (because it relates more directly to my studies) or to choose Policies which is in what I want to work with.

    My concern is if choosing Policies I am at a disadvantage or if they will not consider me because my profile is more of a legal kind.

    I would be happy if you could provide me some insight (if you have some) regarding this matter.

    Thank you very much!

    • adminchiara:

      Hi Ingrid!

      I think the fact that you already have a Master’s Degree in policies would give you a better justification and motivation of your choice for the field.

      As I replied to a similar question to Miss Undecided, although her case was somewhat different, there is some risk, of course, because information is interpreted/processed in different ways by different people. In your case, though, since you already have a degree under your belt, I can’t quite think of a threat, but this is just my personal opinion, which may be different from other people’s opinion.

      So think it through, but not too much. There’s times in life when you have to be bold too. 😉

  • Samson:

    Thanks for the useful information.

    I’m still in the process of finishing my bachelor degree, what advice would you render to me?

    • adminchiara:

      My only advice is to wait until you obtain your degree. You are not eligible if you don’t have your Bachelor’s.

  • gretel:

    I am not sure about the parts where you have to write down your skills and motivation.
    Should these answers be a continous text or is it enough to formulate some headwords (at least in the skill-section I think that could be sufficient?)?

    Thank you for your helpful information.

    • adminchiara:


      In the skills section you can list your skills as you would do in your CV. In the motivation is has to be continuous text as in a motivation letter.

  • gretel:

    Thank you very much!

  • Eline:

    Hey! Just as a heads up: things have changed a bit again! I got an email yesterday that I made it through pre-selection and I now have two weeks to provide all the required documents to proof my language skills, work experience etc. However, this does not need to be send in hard copies anymore, but in pdf files and emailed to them! So lots of scanning the next days, but its much easier to send everything via email in my opinion so a positive change :) Thanks for all the useful information!

    • adminchiara:

      Hi Eline,

      Thanks for keeping the “community” updated. :-)

      I have to admit I haven’t checked to see if rules have changed (yet!) again, but I’ll do so in the following days.

  • Emmmm:

    Hello, should I have or not a photo of me attached in the CV? In my country it’s basicly wanted even it’s not said or written anywhere, but I am not sure about how things go with EC recruitment.

  • Wine Lover:

    Hi Chiara! Amazing blog! I ma surprised there are no questions in 2015. I am applying right now and a sthe rest of the people, have same doubts: Area of interest. My case is a bit more complex: I am thinkg about Polices, Programmes/Projects or External realtions. I will explain why: I am an Agricultural engineer and a MSc in wine science and I currently work in an international organisation. I speak 5 langauges. Obviously, Agriculture DG would be perfect for me, but… On the other hand, I am originally from Balkan, which means I all the languages that could be useful right now to the EC, taking into account that these countries are part of the current EU-enlargement plans. So… I am not sure where to hit? What would you recommend me? Thanks a lot in advance!

  • Arif:

    i have problems in selecting area of interest, i am Electrical Engineer and now interested to do internship in energy sector,but regret to say that there is no such option in the list of area of interest.

    so please help me some one in this regard?

  • Pepe:

    Just thank you for your clear explanations on the blog.

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