EC Traineeship vs. EU Internship


EC traineeship or EU internship?

It is a known fact that Eurojargon can create or lead to great confusion, especially for those outside the “house”. To my greatest surprise, even people with very high academic profiles fall into the trap of misunderstanding basic terms such as EU (European Union), EC (European Commission), EP (European Parliament) and many alike.

Of course, I will not engage myself into any type of political or semantic discourse, but if you are looking into applying for an EU traineeship/internship, this could mean quite a few things.

 First, you must understand that although EU (European Union) exists as a legal entity with legal personality (thanks to the Lisbon Treaty) made of 27 independent States, there is no such concept as EU internship. There is no such concept as the institution/organization/body of the EU where you could apply for an internship.

The EU as an institution does not exist. What does exist is a number of institutions representing the EU at different levels. The Council of the EU represents EU’s member governments, the European Parliament is the legislature gaining more powers by the day, the European Commission is the enforcer of EU laws and policies (among other things), etc.

 There are 7 EU Institutions, a couple of advisory bodies, some other related organisations and agencies. Almost each of them hosts an traineeship/internship programme, which you can find on their respective websites.

Each of these programmes are governed by different application rules, so before you proceed, make sure you read carefully these rules and you comply with the requirements.

In addition, make sure you know how to distinguish these institutions (in particular, you need to know their names and what they do). Taking the Commission for the Parliament and Parliament for the Council will do you no favours, on the contrary, such a confusion could make your life even harder when trying to apply or understand how they function.

 The biggest traineeship programme is hosted by the European Commission (EC), because the Commission is the largest of the EU Institutions with the highest number of employees. It is also the traineeship that I took and the one I am writing about in this blog.

There are usually +/- 600 trainees recruited per session (2 sessions a year). In the other EU Institutions, the number of trainees is much smaller, from 50+ to 100+, and as explained above, the application and selection process is somewhat different.

 As a bonus, I added below a very simplistic diagram of EU Institutions, with only 5 instead of 7. I am sure you can figure out where to place the missing 2 on the diagram.


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