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Welcome to the EU Trainee Bible and

an introduction to Brussels Brief, the
EU's freshest weekly digest explaining
the EU.

Where do I live, breathe? Where am I?
What is an EU? Answers to the
elementary questions, covered.


How do I act? What do I say? What do I

do? Making the most of your
traineeship both in and out of the the


What's my life's purpose? How can I get

on the gravy train? You get one shot at
the Eurobubble...Mom's spaghetti.

Congratulations for making it to your EU Traineeship. Whether you are fresh out of your
European Studies bachelors/masters or are looking for a sly way of getting a taste of what the
gravy train life of Eurocrat is like, you have done well in overcoming the notoriously difficult
selection process, and the wonderfully convoluted red tape to confirm your place among the
EU institutions in the next few months.

The "EuroBubble, as it often referred to, is a place of European diversity of young (and older)
people coming together to work for and in the EU. You will experience what this is all about as
you meet other trainees, colleagues, heads of units and more. Be ready to get your talking
skills up and running because the multitude of spoken languages here is impressive.

You are one in over 600 trainees that will undergo a traineeship in the EU institutions and be
sure that your unit and the European quarter will certainly be ready to host you. You, on the
other hand, may not be so ready. Several hundred of you will be scavenging to open bank
accounts, activate a working phone, maybe even find a home if that floats your boat.

But dont panic.

To get you started, Brussels Brief bring you our indispensable insider tips to give you a head
start on your traineeship. We hope youll enjoy your time here and maybe even get a job out of

Good night and good luck,

The Brussels Brief Team


Brussels is a weekly digest on and about the EU. We collate and curate the best
international media content on the EU from major international news sources, blogs,
websites and more and bring it to you once a week in a fresh and irreverent newsletter.

The idea is to provide an 'executive summary' so that the most seasoned europhile,
concerned citizen, student, and policy wonk can stay in the loop with the most important
and interesting reads of the week.

We live in an age of news and media saturation. This is exacerbated by the hard to
navigate EU landscape. From online, print and social media there has never been a
greater need for a single source where you can read with the peace of mind that all your
loose ends are tied in what is happening in and around the Brussels Bubble and the EU.
Brussels Brief reduces the noise so you don't have to.

We started Brussels Brief because we were EU trainees at one point ourselves, but didnt
think the existing media was easy to understand or engaging. Brussels Brief is made with
our own millennial generation in mind - keeping things informative but infused with a
healthy sense of humour and informed from a myriad of perspectives.

In an ambitious leap for our nascent organisation, we decided to expand beyond our
weekly newsletter with this EU Trainee Bible, because a lot of the big brotherly/sisterly
advice we needed when we did our traineeships wasnt available to us and we think we
can (humbly) offer some insight. Between us, we have been trainees in all the major
institutions, so we hope our experiences can be of help to you no matter if youre starting
a traineeship in the Commission, Council, Parliament, Committee or anything else within
the Eurobubble. Fix up, look sharp because this applies to you.

SIGN UPto Brussels Brief on our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

We hope youll enjoy it...


You are now officially a Eurocrat. Congratulations! Everyone hates you.

Being a Eurocrat is an unloved job. You make too many rules (not as a trainee you wont),
you are paid fat salaries (nope, not even close as a trainee) and you spend all day drinking
wine with lobbyists plotting to remove democracy from real people (if only).

The EU bubble is a world far removed from most peoples lives and youll have a full-time
job ahead of you just trying to explain the difference between the Council of the European
Union and the European Council and why the EU is not 21st century Stalinism and/or
Neoliberalism run amok (often to the same person).

Good luck with that.

Brussels is a fascinating place with most of the 30.000 Commission staff working here, the
751 egos (MEPs) and their assistants and much of the 6000 strong European Parliament
staff; the 3500 Staff working for the Council, not to mention the 28 Member States
Permanent Representations (i.e. EU Embassies) and an army of lobbyists (that includes
both private sector suits, NGO hippies and everything in between). So youll get to meet a
lot of different people as long as you try and reach out.

This 'bible' has as its mission, the Herculean task of easing your way into the brave new
world of EU intricacies, unspoken rules and constant hustle for jobs. Hopefully, it will bring
a little clarity for your new work, explain a bit about the context you are working in and
give you some useful tips and tricks in order to land that sweet gig as an overpaid lobbyist
when you finish your traineeship.

Bonne chance you Euro rascals...




1.1 Rooms typically rent between 300 and 600
and it is usually easy to find a place close to
the European Quarters. Look out for whether

ACCOMM or not charges (for electricity and water) are

included in the total rent price.

ODATION Also, it is important to note that it is likely that

your landlord will ask you to create an
account to block between 1-3 months of rent
as a guarantee. This is quite common here in
Belgium, although it does vary from landlord
Brussels is a bustling city with hopeful
to landlord. Your new Belgian bank is familiar
politicians, young (and sometimes idealistic)
with the procedure and it only takes a few
professionals, evil lobbyists (and a few benign
minutes to make a blocked account and fill
ones), journalists, students and many more
out the document. Once you leave the
people moving in and out all the time. So
apartment your landlord signs off on a similar
there are always rooms, apartments and
document you can get the bank to release the
houses opening up for new inhabitants.
deposit, and the money should be released
within a few days.(as long as you didnt tear
Short term rentals (perfect if youre only
things up in your birthday house party).
staying for 6 months) are possible across the
board but there are a few things you need to
Websites/groups for accommodation include
be aware of. The standard rental contract is 3
Bruxelles louer, Appartement/maison louer,
years, so make sure you clarify the length of
your contract even before you walk into the
viewing. Shorter rentals are available at the
discretion of the landlord, or under a sublet
agreement with someone on a three-year
contract. This latter option is quite common
and perfectly legit, however, you may have
some issues on registering with your local 'Rooms typically
rent between
commune (more on that later) if you opt for

The options vary depending on preferred

location and budget. However, what is
300 and 600'
important to know is that Facebook groups
specific to Brussels housing market, such as
Bruxelles louer, are extremely useful, with a
frequent exchange of places and details.


Wildcard option: Scooty is a Belgian startup

1.2 that allows you to rent motorbikes around the

city of Brussels on a use by use basis all via
your smartphone.

TRANSP Want to go green? Take the Villo city bikes, it

will get you places quickly and with few less

ORTATIO kilos given Brussels hilly hills! If you do though

be warned that Brussels traffic and air quality
together dont make for the ideal match.

Ask a Roman if they think the Brussels
transportation system works well and theyre
likely to praise it like you did Britney Spears in
'To stay fair, lets
the 1990s. Ask a Nordic, and they might refer
to Britney in 2007. say Brussels
To stay fair, lets say Brussels transportation transportation
takes you from
takes you from one place to another with
certainty. It works efficiently and runs
frequently enough. Theyre also not the
dirtiest! Metro, buses and trams get a little
more packed, but get particularly tricky during
one place to
rush hours because of traffic.
another with
In order to navigate the transport system in a
cost-effective (and legal) way, make sure to certainty. It
works efficiently
get a MoBiB card with either single trips or a
commuter subscription early on it will save
you a lot of money. There are two MoBiB
cards available; one is a basic card that you
can buy over the counter and the other is one
and runs
with your picture for monthy or yearly
If you dont have a picture ready it can be enough.'
made at the ticket counter in Gare du Midi
when you buy a card.


Once you have found a permanent place to

1.3 reside in (permanent is a very relative term

for the world traveller in us, we know) you find
your commune (e.g. Ixelles, Etterbeek, Saint

UTILITIES Gilles, etc.) and you head over to schedule an

appointment to register.

101 You return with all that is necessary (ID, ID

photos, etc.) and the clerk assigned will help
you register in the system. Police will follow
up in the coming weeks with a visit to your
apartment (ensuring you are home at the
Opening a bank account
same time as the police is the impossible bit

you will have to overcome) to confirm your
If you want to get paid, you will need a bank
place of residency (make sure to have your
account and ING, a local bank conveniently
name on the door).
located in Schuman and Place Lux is used to
welcoming new accounts from trainees,
If this step goes well, you can return to the
among other places, will soon be
Commune in the coming days to pick up your
residency card. (Simple as pie)
A few things to remember when getting your
bank account. It is important you head there
Gym Membership
bright and early to schedule an appointment.
Lunch and after work hours are likely to be
It goes without saying that physical exercise is
packed with people so do try to get an early
great for the body, but also for the brain,
squeeze. Your monthly salary and drunken
activating just the right kind of hormones that
withdrawals will thank you for it! (you avoid
keep you energised and feeling good (we are
extra fees for operating from a Belgian
all hooked on dopamine its that chemical that
activates every time we get a like on
Facebook). So if you feel like staying active off-
Remember to bring your trainee contract with
work hours, here are some options.
you as the bank will require some form of
documentation for your employment. Other
than that its pretty simple and can be done in
less than 30 min.

Registering in your commune 'registering in

Registering at your commune helps keep your commune
helps keep track
track of your residency and allows you to be
added to a system that holds you accountable
for paying two taxes: transport and recycling
trash (the system is well-regulated and
organised here in Brussels).
of your residence'
Basic Fit is a decently priced gym that has Internet
several spaces across the city. The
convenience lies in the membership being If your new home doesnt have internet then
applicable in allocations you might be in for a rough ride. Most Belgian
operators are slow and expensive, with a cap
Bonus feature: they have locations in 5 limit on your amount of surfing. That is not
countries with universal access to members. ideal when you are trying to binge watch
House of Cards.
Wildcard option: there is also another option
right by the parliament, World Class, although On top of that, most try to bundle you with a
this one has only one location, its indoor pool TV and phone subscription, thats a load of
makes it all worth the while (close your eyes beeswax if youre only here for 6 months, so
and imagine youre in Santorini). check if your apartment has some kind of
Membership can vary between gyms and it
depends on the package you choose but you Should you need to acquire your own internet
are safe in estimating 20-30 per month. package,you'll have to wait for 2 weeks
before getting an appointment for them to
Phone come by another 2 weeks later) then try out:
Telenet: takes about a week to come by, but
With EU roaming finally abolished, rejoice, you you can schedule an appointment for either
can actually use your phone while abroad morning (9-13) or afternoon (14-20).
without bleeding money.

But should you want to get a local Belgian

number (a good idea if you want to get called
for a job interview) then try out;

Mobile Vikings: an easy solution that allows

you to top-up as you go, with different
'that's a load of
packages heavy on either data, calling or
texting. They can send you a sim card for free
beeswax if your
and you just take it from there, easy-peasy.
only here for 6
Proximus: The legacy company in Belgium.
They had a monopoly until the EU said, hey months'
stop that!. Monopolies just arent very EUish.



1.4 THE There is a reason why they put the EU in

Belgium. Theyre quite used to politics being

CITY complicated. Not only is the country divided in

Flemish north, Walloon south and love child
Brussels stuck in the middle (yes we left out
the tiny German enclave, sorry).

Practical Information Suffice to say all politics is local, nowhere

more so than in Brussels. So are you living in
Being a bilingual city remember that all Etterbeek, Bruxelles-Ville, Ixelles, Schaerbeek
proper names in Brussels (i.e. street names, or one of the other 15 communes It matters
areas etc) have both a French and Flemish for many services, taxes, rules and more
moniker: Bruxelles-Ville= Stad Brussel; Ixelles especially if you stay here after your
= Elesene; Port de Namur= Naamsepoort and traineeship. You were warned!
so on. Sometimes it is more obvious than
others, but people almost exclusively refers to Weather The Belgian Tax Youre Paying
the names in French. However, a bus or tram
might have the name written in Flemish, so it You might not be paying any taxes of your EU
is helpful to remember a few places (your wage, but the tax youre paying is the Belgian
address) in both languages (even Google weather.
Maps falls into this trap).
Brussels has a lot to offer but blue skies and
sunshine are not always on the menu. When
Neighbourhoods they are though, it is blissfulness. On the rest
of the days, cover up, wear waterproof shoes,
What Brussels lacks in city wide management and forget your umbrella. Yes, forget the
it makes up of for in diversity. The citys 19 umbrella. Its often rainy in such a way, with
Communes (municipalities) are a diverse such a wind, that an umbrella in Brussels has
amalgamation of Belgian society combined an estimated life of 7 days. Dont believe us?
with immigrant neighbourhoods, university Try your luck!
areas, EU institutions, parks and recreational
areas and much more

The most popular areas among students and

young professionals are Ixelles, Etterbeek, 'there's a reason
they put the EU in
Bruxelles Ville, Saint-Gilles and Schaerbeek.
They are all close to the main EU buildings
around Schuman and it is relatively easy to
find an affordable accommodation on a
trainee budget.


Groceries and Home Goods Nightlife

For all the little things in your new home, You didnt just come to save the world by day,
Hema and Blokker are fantastically utilitarian; no youre here to shake some serious
spoons, towels, glasses, sheets. Any utility for bureaucratic booty at night. Brussels has a
your new house can be found here and youll decent and varied nightlife spread, something
most likely become great friends with the staff for every type, taste and budget. We
after 5-6 repeat visits. For a more eclectic and recommend the places we hang out in and
less useful trip, go to Flying Tiger, the Danish that way it's more likely you can buy us a
superstore of wondrous eclectic everythings. drink.

Brussels is home to a few supermarkets that Bars: Maison du Peuple for a drink, or two, or
aren't well known to people from abroad. One five. Its a great spot, decorated with exposed
of the most ubiquitous is Delhaize and offers a brick and it gets crowded on Saturday nights
big variety. Good croissants and baked goods with some of the best company in the city. Its
for that homemade brunch. also located in one of Brussels trendiest and
most upcoming neighbourhoods, St Gilles.
German socialist paradises Aldi and Lidl offer Madame Moustache is a dive in St Catherine
the shopping prices most friendly to your that will enamour you once you walk. The
trainee level income. They also have the best eclectic decor, funky music and hipster crowd
gin and Whiskeys in the world (no joke). So will want you going back.
this is a good place to go if youre having a
Crmaillre (housewarming). Clubs: Fuse. Work life got you feeling dull?
Need a techno release? Fuse will make sure to
Wildcard option: If you want to shop like a pro fix that. Among Brussels biggest clubs, Fuse is
go to the outdoor bazaar at Gare du Midi on an alternative way to spend your weekend out
Sundays (6am-2pm). The bazaar is one of the (because realistically you wont make it home
biggest outdoor markets in Europe, so if you before 4 am and then there goes your two-
have the stomach for haggling a bit you can day rest period).
get a good deal on vegetables, flowers,
clothes. Poetic and cheap. Wildcard option: Cafe Beguin hosts live music
every weekend and its free entry (almost)
Wildcard option 2: Marche des Tanneurs is a every time. If youre looking for some of the
fruit and vegetable market that sells coveted best cocktails in town and some live world-
bio products that are so in right now. All inspired music, this is your place. (Great place
joking aside, most if not all of their products for a dinner and a date).
are locally sourced.

'you can buy us a



The Commission employs around 30.000

1.4 EU people. That may sound like a bunch, but

remember that it services the EUs 500 million
citizens. Whats more, the EU only has about

101 1% of the total EU budget. Compare that to

20% in the US or 57% in France.

The EU is a strange beast. More of a state Of all the EU budget, 94% is spent back in
than an international organisation making member states (that means less money for
some unnerved, but not enough of a state to trainees) putting some restrictions on what
make others happy. the Commission can implement of utopian EU
rules. The Commission is essentially
To say the least what matters in the EU is to accountable to the European Parliament and
find compromise and getting legislation its President is practically elected by the
through is a long process involving multitudes Parliament by the beautifully onomatopoeic
of partners, institutions, political and cultural Spitzenkandidaten procedure. It sounds like
considerations and some finely honed democracy, doesn't it?
political skill making.
The European Parliament
But youre here to change the world, so go
ahead, but dont be surprised if your policy The only directly elected EU institution - so
document gets stuck in a hearing for 6-8 basically your guarantee for democratic
months. Below we briefly go through the participation. It has grown from a symbolic
main EU actors, and most likely your new place with virtually no influence to a political
boss... powerhouse equal to the Council of Ministers
and has since 2014 decided that it elects the
The European Commission Commission president.

The European Commission is the EUs

executive arm. Nobody knows what that
means exactly, but basically, it is the EUs
government. It consists of 28 Commissioners
(one from each country) lead by the President
(sort of like your prime minister at home). 'The EU is a
Known as the guardian of the treaties they are
exclusively responsible submit a proposal for
strange beast'
legislation, check that member states are
doing what they should be doing in
implementing EU law and run the day to day
EU affairs - pretty much like your government
at home.


The EP has equal say in almost all legislation The European Council
and never misses a chance to let anyone
know that it feels it should be more involved Wait what? didnt you just mention that?
(it is elected by us citizens, so fair enough). Well not exactly. The European Council is
Made up of 751 MEPs (Member of the where the EU heads of state (presidents,
European Parliament) elected by (almost) prime ministers) meet a few times a year to
proportional voting in the member states. It discuss the general direction of the EU. Its
consists of several political groups, the biggest sort of a parent version of the Council.
ones being the conservative EPP and the
Social Democratic-socialist S&D. Although the European Council is not part of
the daily legislation it is important because
For legislation to pass it usually requires a nothing can be done without the member
majority, which no single political group has states (they pay the bills).
meaning that compromise is not just a virtue,
but unavoidable. The president is elected for a 2,5 year period
and can be re-elected once. The president
Council of the European Union shares the role of representing the EU with
the president of the Commission in
The Council of the European Union or the international settings.
Council of Minister. Well just say Council,
thank you. This is where Member States meet This makes it really messy to figure out who is
and vote according to national interests with the leader of the EU not to mention the
final say belonging to, you guessed it, the obviously confusing names of the institutions.
The EU might be expertly skilled at ensuring
Technically 10 council formations exist (one balance of power but not on naming things.
for agriculture, one for foreign policy and so
on) who then work together with the
European Parliament on finding a
compromise on legislation.

'compromise is
This is similar to the process in the US, with
the Council being similar to the Senate. Each
country votes according to population size
and to pass a law needs a double majority:
55% of the countries and 65% of the
not just a virtue,
but unavoidable.'


Committees Agencies

The Committee of the Regions and the Social There are a number of EU agencies spread
and Economic Committee are two EU bodies out across the 28 Member States. The
charged with bringing together stakeholders different EU agencies perform a range of
and representatives from society to feed input monitoring, technical and scientific tasks
to the EU. Each consists of 350 members and helping and supporting the Commission in
not much poltical power between them. many of its regulatory tasks where a high
degree of technical expertise is needed.
The Committee of the Regions is comprised of
local and regional politicians from around the Most commonly known are Europol (the EUs
28 EU member states. They weigh in with police cooperation organisation), the
opinions on EU legislation since most EU law European Medicines Agency (the EMA, at the
affects their local work and has to be moment set to leave London with other
implemented by local officials. Member States trying to get the rose) and The
European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA)
The Economic and Social Committee similarly located in Parma, because when it comes to
is made up of social partners that is food safety we can only trust the Italians.
representatives of businesses and labour
unions and other social partners like NGOs in
order to have their voices heard in Brussels,
since the well functioning of the Single Market
is paramount to the EU and no Brussels
bureaucrat wants to be told they have
ignored the people.

'when it comes to
food safety we
can only trust the




This information might not be explained to
Being the newbie in town isnt always so bad,
you within the first day of walking into your
especially when you know the environment
office. So find a moment with a colleague you
you are coming into! It might be helpful for
feel comfortable with to ask about the dos
you to sit down for a coffee with a colleague
and donts of your unit. If you have a
or two, and ask about ordinary office life. Its
supervisor then dont be afraid to ask.
always good to know as soon as you get there
Supervisors are made out of the same organic
if the entire unit goes for morning coffee at
material you are, and they dont bite if they do
10, or that it organizes weekly meetings to
let us know your story after youve let the
catch up on work or drinks. It might also be
police know.
that your boss likes reports submitted in a
certain kind of way or at a certain hour. Get
on frequency from the first day.



2.2 Recent years of terror attacks around Europe

and in Brussels made its mark on people's

WORK consciousnesses and on the face of many

capitals, now littered with extra police and
military. This applies to Brussels in particular.

TIME The city hosts the EU and regularly have 28

heads of state come by for coffee meetings,
so it's logical security is tightened. In daily
practice, youll manage. Remember to give
Dress Code
yourself a few extra minutes to pass through
security - much like a standard airport check.
There is no official dress code. Yes, you will
Also be aware that when the big 28 are in
see a bit of everything and are free to do
town, Schuman is a no go are so be prepared
almost what you like, but being the newcomer
to adjust your morning commute to make
on the block, its not a bad idea to overdress a
way for the motorcades.
bit (you can always scale back) and take cues
from your unit.
Procedures can vary from place to place with
the main buildings like the Berlaymont (where
One thing to keep in mind: will you be
all the Commissioners are) being extra heavy.
participating in meetings with people outside
One annoying feature is the fact that you
your institution? In that case, remember that
cannot necessarily go from a Commission
you are also representing your unit and first
building to the Parliament or Council building.
impressions go a long way (you might want a
Even senior staff have to go through security
job with the people you meet).
at the other institutions. That is stupid and
wasteful, but its how it is. Sorry champ.
You may find yourself in a relaxed
environment, or in one that tends to be more
formal, in which case look at the way others
are dressed and learn to adapt to your
'it's the little
Perhaps, if you notice it is a minority of
colleagues that go around without a tie things that make
you stand out'
perhaps start wearing one to work. Sure, it is
not fair, but you're also the last one on the
ladder so learn to make your way up with
respect and with fine etiquette. It's the little
things that can help you stand out (for better
or for worse).


Etiquette Social media etiquette is key in modern work
settings. Suffice to say, posting about your job
The world is beautiful because it is varied, but can be fun, but an Instagram picture of the
only up until a certain point. Your educational latest amendment to a report is of no-ones
and cultural background may differ from your interest, let alone of use to your office. When
neighbour's, and that is not to say either one it comes to adding your colleagues to social
of you are in the wrong. However, in the media, play it by ear. The usual good practice
workplace, there are a series of unspoken is to add them on LinkedIn. Twitter is the next
rules that should be accounted for. These are best logical step and save Facebook and
considered appropriate etiquette for the Instagram for your BFFs.
context you may find yourself in.
For instance, in writing or responding to an
email from a colleague, always use formal and There is no doubt in our minds you have
adequate language. Address the person with worked a long and steep road to get where
respect and authority, kindly ask them for you are. You have managed to make it
clarification, do not dismiss them or talk in through a selection of tens of thousands of
abbreviated, slang terms. There is no need to candidates to secure a spot as a Bluebook or
demand a response, or abruptly request Schuman trainee within the EU institutions. As
things such as a foot massage (stranger things you walk with pride, however, remember
have happened). where you came from. You are young (yes,
below or around 30 is a young age for
Etiquette also refers to the way you behave in Eurobubble standards).
the office. Perhaps it is not absolutely
necessary to ask for your days off on the very There is much you have yet to learn and there
first day of work. That can be done as you isn't a boss, a unit, or a working environment
settle into the new workplace, and get to that cannot teach you something about
observe the behaviour and the work patterns human nature, professional realisation, or
of other colleagues, as well. your very own life. Take it all in and keep in
mind that there are a variety of nationalities,
Show up on time, and in the first, few weeks, background and people surrounding you.
notice how others go about the day. Of

'there are a series

course, you can ask for the precise working
hours. In doing so, you set yourself to those
hours (in the limits of human and/or transport
error of course). A few minutes won't kill
anyone, but avoid being the last one to show
of unspoken rules
up and the first one to go.
that should be
accounted for'


Not everyone has a path like yours, but it KYU - Know your unit/other units
doesn't mean yours is better (or worse in
fact). Just because you have a half-dozen An organigram is not a musical instrument.
degrees, went to the College of Europe, LSE Rather it is the source of context in an
and/or Sciences Po and your uncle is Jose organisation. Every decent intranet should
Manuel Barroso doesnt mean you can go have a copy of the organigram showing your
around treating people like they are inferior. unit and its relation to the other units within
your DG.
Brussels is a small town and reputations are
consequential. Take it all in like a sponge and Perhaps the fun element is that you can see
remember, humility will likely get you a few who your boss boss is and know exactly what
extra friends too, nobody likes a showoff. someone is talking about when they are
introducing themselves and what they do.
Ask Questions

You are new to your position, probably new to

Brussels and so you will need to ask
questions. Your new colleagues know this so
dont be shy. It is a much better strategy to

'You are new to

ask a question one time extra than making a
preventable mistake.

Besides, asking questions just demonstrates

that you are interested in your work, your
your position,
colleagues and are taking your job seriously.
Thats a good way to start your career and will probably new to
pay off.
Brussels and so
you will need to
Secondly, traineeships vary a lot depending
on the DG, agency, and the individual unit you
will be working in. Some have too much work
for you, so speak up in case youre drowning,
but others forget to delegate enough work.
ask questions.'
If you find yourself in that situation remember
this: It never hurts to ask an extra time if you
can help out with something, it only makes
you stand out even better.


Other Trainees - Know Your Peers The most effective way to get a job after your
traineeship is to be referred by someone.
A stranger is a friend you dont know yet, and That doesnt have to be the boss of your boss.
a fellow trainee is a future colleague. No one It can just as easily be your fellow trainee,
is better to help you out than your fellow your supervisor or your landlord (no jokes,
trainees because they know exactly what turns out eurocrats have some spare change
kinds of problems you are facing and to invest in property and such things).
probably have some good advice to share,
albeit where the next bar is. Make yourself visible and be honest about
your interests. Even though you might not get
It is easy to fall into the trap of hanging out the first dream job there will be an opening
only with trainees in your same office, and somewhere soon and having shown your face
unit. There can be a great camaraderie with and talked about your background is the best
those but there is a shared feeling of way to get ahead.
fraternity with trainees in other DGs and even
institutions that you wont have when you That being said dont be overly interested, it is
finish your traineeship. So make the most to wise to flatter people with power but
reach out, join trainee-organised events such remember Machiavellis magnum opus The
as those from the EC Trainees Committee and Prince was advice to people already with
Schuman Trainees Committee. Your time as a some power, not trainees.
trainee is as short as and if done properly, as
fun as an Erasmus and should be enjoyed like


Network network network is an age-old

cliche... that works. To most people, a
'The most
dreaded thing but no man (m/f) is an island
especially in Brussels where youll find
effective way to
yourself creepily sharing Facebook friends
with everyone, let alone LinkedIn contacts. get a job after
That being said dont worry. Youll network all your traineeship
is to be referred
the time even if you dont know it. Networking
is asking questions, showing up at
conferences and explaining who you are and
your background. Use your time as a trainee
to gather information and get to know people.
by someone.'
Hand out business cards like its free candy
and collect business cards like theyre
Pokemon. Business cards are like seeds, they
tend to sprout when you least expect them to.


PWDs - Post Work Drinks

2.2 Place Luxembourg (or Plux) on Thursdays.

Plux is the new centre of your life and youll

DOWN learn to hate it and live to love it. It is THE

centre for young Eurobrats such as yourselves
to go socialize after work and it is where you

TIME will try desperately to get news about a

contract agent position in the DG of your
dreams. From time to time the place is
crawling with real Eurocrats so dont miss the
opportunity to pick them apart and ruin their
evening asking for career advice.
EU food is subsidised much like the Common
Agricultural Policy that it hosts. No butter
Remember that happy hour is from 6-7pm
mountains or wine lakes in the institutions
only where most beers are 2 euros which
though. If you decide to go for lunch in your
become 4 just when you are getting happy
DGs canteen its usually a good idea to go
enough to not care about the price. If you do
before 12:30 when the internal clock of all EU
care about the price, (and you will), the
officials cries out for sustenance. It is worth
Delhaize in Place Lux is open until 8 pm and
asking if your canteen does trainee discounts
there is a night shop just around the corner
(this varies across canteens) and if so, always
(opposite Luxembourg train station) which is
show your badge. Canteen workers have no
notoriously popular servicing thirsty drunk
mercy when it comes to charging you full
trainees with 1.50 Jupiler and questionably
price. It's your job to remind them.
delicious samosas until late. These, of course,
are to be consumed in the grass area and
Most trainees will work in the European
under no circumstance to be smuggled into
Quarter fairly close to each other. So where to
the bars...under no circumstance...never ever.
go for that networking lunch youve finally
managed to set up? At Brussels Brief we like
bagels and Arts and Bagels in Schuman or
Karsmakers close to Place Luxembourg are
known for some mean bagels. Alternatively,
theres always an EXKI close by or try Pulp or 'Plux is the new
Paul if you want an extremely standard
sandwich. centre of your life
Wildcard tip: Like some Moroccan food for a
great price? Try Cafe Jenner in Etterbeek for
and you'll learn to
delicious Moroccan dishes at a very
discounted price. If you want to pay homage
hate and live to
to the beloved Central European staple of
Schnitzel, try Restaurant Maxburg for a pricey love it'
yet worthwhile piece of breaded meat


Chatelain on Wednesdays. Wednesday ( or Fine Arts museum - a classic, because the
hump day) is one of those days which is hard to classics never die. An elegant and well-kept
make an opinion. You're halfway through the building to lose yourself in the pretentious. A
working week, but you're also only halfway variety of styles to wander through, from
through the working week. Luckily, Brussels has antiquities to modern contemporary art and
given Wednesdays a spin that perhaps can give limited photography exhibitions, youll find
you a boost as much as it has done with us in yourself travelling through time and space. If
the past. The Chatelain farmer's market occurs youre under, youll get in for 2. You cant eat
every day from 1 pm to 7 pm after which it culture, but for 2 euros Ill take all I can eat.
turns into an after work drink up until late. Its
location is in a rather London-esque Museum of Instruments offers a chance to
neighbourhood of Brussels, with little, brick and experience music from its birth, through the
colourful townhouses all around. Its cosy streets eras and different cultures and across a
leading up to this main square (Place du variety of instruments. This museum allows
Chatelain) make it a great place for this you to live the music like you havent before.
exchange of foods, from Italian piadinas to pad Taking you through pianos, harps, trumpets,
thai to Moroccan delicacies and beer to wash it drums, local and regional music trends, it will
down. get you inspired to start your own
philharmonic if you only took those piano
Wildcard option: Stay at home all week and go lessons seriously when you were five years
out on the weekends like an adult. Jokes aside, old.
Chausseurs Ardennais in Schaerbeek is ten
minutes walk from the Commission and could
be considered the Belgian Plux on Fridays.
Much like Chatelain, it is an outdoor market

'Magritte, a pride
whose star feature is an Alsatian bar serving
cremante wine, Strasbourg beer and pretzels.

and joy of the
Museums: If rainy days discourage you,
Brussels museum scene will take you into Belgians and man
refuge. Magritte, a pride and joy of the Belgians
and man who is famous for saying that a pipe is who is famous for
saying that a pipe
not a pipe has his very own spot. Located right
next to one of Brussels most iconic views, you
will find the hours spent inside fly by. Organised
so you, the viewer, can experience his life
through his art pieces, the museum has some
is not a pipe'
of his most original work.

Parks: Parc Cinquantenaire - If youre keen on
going for a run while staying in the midst of the
(political) action this is the place for you. Right
by the EU headquarters, Parc Cinquantenaire is
a fine reflection of the citys best. Characterised
by the monumental arc that brings inspiration
just by looking at it, this park is a great place to
take a lunch break, too. It also holds a
reasonable track field and a mosque. Common
sights include people practising Tai Chi, Acro
Yoga and passed out revellers from Friday night.

Parc Royale - Class and melancholy characterise

this park that faces what was once the Royal
Palace, now only used for official state visits and
tourist ones, too. Parc Royale is a centrally
located green space to walk through as you
head towards downtown. It is often home to
food and music festivals, which are always an
excuse to toast to the remaining monarchists in
the 21st century.

Parc Leopold - a favourite of ours, this place is

reminiscent of the sort of park Perdita and
Pongo once chased each other in (its a 101
Dalmatians reference for those who left the

'Common sights
Disney days behind). With large weeping
willows, green hills and a pond, this is a great
place to lay in and spend hungover Sundays at.
Its also home to a basketball court but more
importantly, the House of European History.
include people
The park is also strategically located between
Place Jourdan (where the fries are made) and practising Tai Chi,
the European Parliament (where the sausages
are made). Acro Yoga and
Bois de la Cambre - a runners favourite. This
much larger park is a great getaway location for
passed out
those who want to stay in Brussels but escape
the urban setting. Its great for walks, picnics,
revellers from
occasional music festivals and marathon
runners and murder victims Friday night'



Go in to see them or write them an email

3.1 informing them of your background (briefly,

no need to let them know what you had for
dinner), your latest employment and your

STAYING interest to work for the EU.

You must be determined and persevere,

IN THE despite what may seem like an initial

disregard/dismissal from their part. They will
invite you in for an EPSO styled computer-

EU based exam. Should you pass this, you will be

placed on a list that they will send to the
Institutions on a monthly basis. Depending on

INSTITUT the need or available vacancies of a unit, you

could be contacted via Randstad.

If youre lucky enough to get an interview with
an interested unit and be selected, boom
youre an interimaire. In this case, as with any
good indenture, you are working within the
The most addictive aspect of obtaining a EU institutions but you are employed by
traineeship within the European Institutions is Randstad. Many of the benefits that you
that it gives you a taste of a cake you once would be receiving as an employee of the EU
had, want again, but can't figure out how to Institutions are not in the cards (healthcare,
get to that precise bakery. If you are at the tax-exclusion, ecc.) Still, you make it off pretty
end of your traineeship and your experience well with weekly contracts (hence, weekly
has proven to be not awful, mildly motivating paychecks) and a chance to explore the life of
and inspiring enough to want to continue an EU official without all the elements that
working for the EU then it turns out that you make the job actually attractive. Think of it like
can. While attempting (and passing) the EPSO non-alcoholic beer or decaf coffee.
'Concours' is the one most definite, long-term

'a taste of a cake

strategies to working for the EU, there are
other ways around that can get you a foot in
the door.

Interimaire (The Glorified intern)

you once had,
The most common way to stay on after your want again, but
traineeship. Go pay a visit to Randstad, an
interimaire agency, which is to be the can't figure out
how to get to that
middleman between you and the EU
Institutions, specifically the Commission.

precise bakery.'
Contract Agent (The Mercenaries) Why? Because of these countries are heavily
underrepresented in the EU institutions. That,
This position allows you to work within the EU therefore, means that it is hard for Italians
Institutions for a total of 6 years and is quite and Spanish people to get in as they are
possibly the sweetest gig out there. Under this continuously over-represented in EU
title, you are a full-fledged employee of the institutions compared to population size. That
EU, which means you receive all the benefits being said, there are no formal quotas only an
(and all the responsibilities) you could expect attempt to have a balanced composition of EU
from an EU official. public officials.

To do so you, must place your personal and EPSO is to some a part-time job, a second
background information (name, past partner, a first child or all of the above. The
academic and professional experience, etc.) main thing you need to know is that the odds
onto the EU CV online database. From here, are stacked against you. Firstly, if studying the
interested and seeking units can find you notorious tests including numerical, verbal
using key words. Should they find your profile reasoning, abstract exercises don't break your
potentially suitable for their vacancy, you will spirit then passing them will be like finding the
be called and asked to take an EPSO-styled lost arc. There are some helpful books like The
exam, with the addition of a competency- Ultimate EU Test Book that will help you get
based section. If you pass this exam (which started.
needs an overall lower score than the EPSO
one), you will be called in for an interview(s) If you do manage to pass then the
until the perfect match is made. assessment centre is where they separate the
wheat from the chaff amid interviews and
At that point, once a unit has chosen to hire competitive arm slinging worthy of some of
you, the paperwork procedure takes the toughest corners of the private sector.
approximately 1-3 months. You are then on
probation for the first 9 months, and should Then comes the final list of worthy yet still
your employer be as satisfied with you as you unemployed candidate ispicked out
are with them, your contract is extended to 2 indsciriminately by whomever has a position
years after the first year and for three years going at that point, anything from Juncker's
after that first renovation. Jumping through cabinet to scrivener in the Committees.
hoops never had such great consequences.

EPSO (Fools Gold) 'EPSO is to some a

You think studying for your degree was hard?
Now comes the real challenge. Heres the
part-time job, a
good news: good news: if you are Danish,
Swedish or Lithuanian (sorry Brits, this one is second partner, a
closing rapidly) you just need to pass, and you
are basically guaranteed a ticket on the gravy first child or all of
the above.'


MEP Assistants - (the Unloved spouse)

Remember The West Wing? The American TV

show about White House staffers? It showed
an entire generation, a behind the scenes look
at the people who saved America (and of
course the world) on a weekly basis. Well, two
can play that game, we got MEP assistants,
the hottest, most overqualified people in 'The power
behind the
town. The power behind the person, the
brains to the brawn, the people who help
MEPs from wetting their pants and when they
do, pick up some dry cleaning.
person, the brains
Being an MEP assistant is a deeply personal
venture. You work directly for your MEP and to the brawn, the
therefore there are 751 different bosses and
job experiences. Some are glorified coffee people who help
MEPs from
makers and some literally write EU legislation
and sit in on crucial negotiations. Most do
anything in between those two extremes.
Work hours and wages are also dependent on
the MEP and the size of staff he or she is
wetting their
running, so you need to figure what type of
conditions you want to work under. pants and when
Most MEPs want and need people from their they do, pick up
some dry
own country (or at least people who are fluent
in their language) but there are hundreds of
opportunities, to take a look around. One
thing youll have to keep in mind: this is a
political office, so there will inevitably be
things you work on you do not agree with.
Thats how it is. But most MEPs are swayed by
good arguments and if you put in the effort
you can have a direct impact on the legislation
you are working on.


Job Platforms

You've had this great work experience for 6

months or maybe if youve been lucky, even
longer and now you're thinking you don't
actually want to leave this rainy but terribly
addictive city. There are a variety of ways in
which the EU network in Brussels makes it
possible for you to stay, or at least try to.

To start off, it is important to regularly check

websites like Eurobrussels, Euractiv and
'Don't despair if it
seems you are
They publish vacancies currently offered by a
variety of firms, agencies, consultancies, relentlessly
applying to
NGOs and others seeking employees. With
just one click you have access to a multitude
of job listings and what are the prerequisites
they seek from an individual wishing to apply.
postings with
Don't despair if it seems you are relentlessly
applying to postings with little to no feedback. little to no
Give it enough time and you will receive some
response, possibly even a chance for an feedback.'


Private Sector & NGOs

Public sector isnt for you? Did you come to

Brussels with the dream of becoming a
hotshot lobbyist earning 6 figures a year and
working 12 hours a day? Then your most
logical next step is to head toward the over
30,000 lobbies or interest representations
that are present in Brussels. These are mostly
made up of big international consultancies,
industry associations, NGOs, Think Tanks and
individual companies' lobbies.

'Did you come to

When it comes to consultancies, the big bad
wolves of corporate representation, these
provide opportunities usually through highly
competitive internship positions, for which
they hold various interview rounds.
Brussels with the
Industry associations are also competitive to dream of
get into and your success will depend on how
familiar you are with the particular industry becoming a
hotshot lobbyist
you're applying for.

Same applies to NGOs, who are known for

hiring people who are experts in their field
rather than expert generalists, that is unless
earning 6 figures
you are an events and communications guru
which means you can get a job in any NGO
a year and
out there.
working 12 hours
a day?'
Finally, think tanks are probably most
attractive to the academic and policy-minded
but they are notorious for low pay. Most who
are initially enamoured by the prospect of
hard-hitting daily policy analysis and
discussions are, in the long-term, dissuaded
by the low pay, long hours and little career
progression in what is, inevitably, a narrow


It works out for some, but it has been said

3.3 THE that there is an entire golden generation of

professionals that are wasting away in the
Brussels internship (vicious) cycle.

INTERNS Know your rights

HIP If you are to pursue another traineeship, and

you probably will, it is worthwhile noting that

HUSTLE there are many different options out there, in

other words, an unpaid internship can be
avoided if done properly.

Another Internship or Contract? In a recent answer to an EPQ (European

Parliament Question), the Commission stated
So what do you do If you cant get an actual that it lacked the competence to ensure that
position in any of the above, is another all traineeships are paid. This is obviously a
internship an option? That question will cop-out, but the attention on both a national
depend on your age, how many internships and international level towards this issue is
you have done before and whether mum and ensuring that both the public and private
dad are willing and able to bankroll your life in sector take note that although the appetite for
a European capital. meaningful and fulfilling work in organisations
linked with the EU is there, there are less and
It has become almost an unspoken rule less people convinced that the price for that is
between all organisations in Brussels, either their free labour.
through lack of funding or pure capitalistic
callousness to have permanent trainee
positions where they can get away with
having a high turnover of overqualified people
at a low stipend (if any).
'Others use
Others use internships to suss out who is
worth the ink on their CV, as an extended internships [...] as
an extended
interview of sorts to hire future employees.

What is an inevitable reality is that Brussels

and particularly the Eurobubble is filled with
an abundance of overqualified, intelligent
interview of sorts
people willing to work long hours for low
wages with the prospect of success, status, to hire future
Europhilia or all of the above as their goals.


The EU has made some kind of declaration Intern-tainment
however on traineeships, however. In the
2014 Council Recommendation on a Quality We wouldn't want to let you go without
Framework for Traineeships. You can read that propping up some entertainment options
for yourself but it doesnt take a genius to conjured up by former trainees. We
deduce that they do not address the issue of recommend delving into a couple of books
pay and conditions of traineeships strongly whilst you are doing your traineeship. An
enough. Erasmus Story by Fabio Mauri is made up of
two novels; Along the Danube and
Intern organisations Mediterranean Ocean.

Thankfully, youre not on your own. If you do The novels are set in a dystopic Europe of the
find yourself in a traineeship situation and are future where the continent is gripped by
looking to get some dedicated advice on conflict and division, consisting of small,
whether youre getting short-changed in any regional states that only share a mutual
way, direct your attention to the various enmity. (sound familiar?) Defying the border
grassroots organisations looking to lobby for restrictions, a group of Erasmus students
and help interns in their struggle. decide to reunite and celebrate thirty years of
friendship. They are supported in this difficult
The first logical step is the impressive Brussels task by the Europeanists, a clandestine
Intern NGO. Started in 2013, they have a association which still fights to bring unity and
substantial team and are behind a lot of the peace to the continent. Just the kind of feel-
initiatives and marches youll see around good world saving EU story we're into.
Brussels in defence trainees rights.

EU Interns 4 Interns is another more EU

focused organisation with a significant
'It doesnt take a
following. If you are looking to find a quality
internship, the organisation Interns Go Pro
genius to deduce
only advertise internships that pass their
stringent quality standards on their platforms. that they do not
The Communaute europeenne du stage is a address the issue
of pay and
French-language Facebook group where
internships of all types are posted but are
usually sieved naturally by the power of the
crowd. conditions of
strongly enough.'


Sell Yourself and Your Traineeship

3.4 You were one of only a few people to make it

through. Even if your country doesnt have

MOVING that many applicants, dont mind, you focus

on the positive aspects.

BACK Thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of

young professional apply for traineeships in
the EU and only a few hundred get to go. So

HOME use that as a case in point when you need to

demonstrate why you can be a valuable team
player and co-worker.

When You Dont Get the Job EU Trainee Ambassador is a trainee run
initiative born only last year that intends to
Its not a big deal, babe, it happens to all of us. prepare those interested promoting EU
traineeships and, incidentally the EU in their
Well be honest with you, not everyone gets home countries. It is also a good excuse to
the dream job or even any job. Many of our keep in touch with the EU institutions by
friends had to move back, but that shouldnt becoming a de facto agent for them (pro-
keep you down. bono of course).

You have acquired valuable experience that

your peers back home dont have: you now
know a system that to most people is deeply
strange and incomprehensible.

You have worked in a complex organisation 'You have

with multiple languages being spoken at
meetings, sometimes at the same time and acquired valuable
experience that
different cultures working together.

That kind of experience is valuable in any

organisation, the only thing you need to do is
highlight it so that your future employer
your peers back
understands what you can bring of value.
home dont have'


Thanks for reading all the way through. Congrats! For doing so you have earned a
spot in President Juncker's cabinet (terms and conditions apply, don't read the small
print). We hope you got as much information/enjoyment as we did writing it.

We want to make a new edition of this 'Bible' for every cohort of trainees so that each
one is passed on generations of trainee knowledge and wisdom in a single
document. In order to so we would love to get YOUR help. Therefore, if you loved or
hated this edition shoot us an email to tell us what you would keep, what you would
get rid of and, most importantly, what you would add.

Also, we'd love to hear about your best experiences, anecdotes as well as
embarrassing work stories and drunken Plux nights on social media.

Use the hashtag #EUTrainee on Twitter or send us a picture on #EUTrainee on

Instagram. Also why not DM us on our Facebook page Brussels Brief. If you have a
good story or picture, we'd love to feature it.

Good luck for the rest of your traineeship and career start in Brussels. We hope to
have been a good friend in the beginning and hope to maintain the friendship as you
go through your journey.

If you would like to keep us in your life and, in the meantime, get informed on what is
being reported on and about the EU then please do us a solid and SIGN UP to
Brussels Brief so that we can send you a weekly email with everything that people
talking about, along with some things they aren't.



The Brussels Brief Team


Copyright 2017 by

EU Trainee Bible 'First Edition'

All rights reserved.

All images published under a Creative Commons licence.

Made with love in Ixelles, Belgium.