There are two ways how to look at being an interim at the European Commission and other EU institutions.
1) The first is just to perceive it as just a temporary source of income between more stable jobs. People need to have their basic needs met, and an interim’s job is definitively no worse than any other job in the private or public sector. In fact, the level of dignity given to an interim in EU institutions could be higher than in quite a few private sector positions.
2) The second is to consciously view it as an opportunity to get closer to getting EU job with all of the benefits that come with it. An interim job will provide you with a stable salary no matter which option you choose, but I strongly advise to look at working as an ‘intérimaire’ as a short-term investment into a better future.
Working as interim staff at the European Commission and other EU institutions offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience and gain a competitive edge over other persons applying for longer-term and even permanent jobs.
By working as interim staff, you can familiarize yourself with the operations and inner workings of some of the most important governing bodies of the European Union, and then “shine” in selection tests and interviews.
- Interim staff serve critical roles in the day-to-day operations of the European institutions, taking up positions in secretarial, usher, and other support roles.
- Interim staff positions have relatively low salaries and few benefits. However, they can be a springboard to more permanent and higher paid jobs in EU institutions.
- Interim jobs (just like traineeships) should be used to get to know an institution and to network so that you stand out during regular selection procedures for Contract Agent, Assistant and Administrator positions.
What Are Interim Staff ?
Interim staff are non-permanent employees hired by the European Commission and other EU institutions for a limited duration to fulfil specific roles and tasks.
The initial contract is usually for 6 months, and it in most cases can be extended for up to 18 months.
Nominally, interims are supposed to provide strictly administrative and support tasks, but many interims find themselves doing work very similar to that of their colleagues in Contract Agent, Assistants, and sometimes even Administrator positions.
The DG Meme website has this tongue-in-cheek interimaire defition which is not that far away from truth. Hence, again, try to use your interim position as a springboard to a more permanent form of contract with EU institutions.
Remuneration And Benefits
As an interim staff member, your pay rate will be around the average salary in your country.
It is something to get by, but definitively will not make you well off.
The most often-heard complaint from interims is not about their salary in absolute numbers, but the fact that they often do work that is similar or even the same as their Assistant and Contract Agent pairs, but they get paid 3-5 times less, and pretty much none of the other advantages like JSIS health insurance and the many additional allowances.
Some people find it demotivating, but for some people this leads to the realization that their skill set is actually quite valuable, and they end up applying for regular EU institutions staff positions.
As an interim you will definitively do the work of persons in Contract Agent positions FG I, FG II and sometimes even FG III. There is no reason to delay applying for these positions as soon as possible double or triple your salary.
While as an interim you are not entitled to the benefits of regular EU institutions’ staff, there are still a number of non-monetary advantages:
- Professional development: During your employment, you will have the opportunity to gain EU-specific professional experience, work with IT tools and systems used in most EU institutions, as well as expand your professional network.
- Flexible working arrangements: As an interim staff member, in some positions you might get the same teleworking regime as regular European Commission staff (usually at least 2-3 in the office, and 2-3 working from home).
- Access to equipment and facilities: Pretty much all institutions provide interims with a laptop during their contract, and some also give a mobile phone and an unlimited calling and data plan. You may also have access to any facilities and resources, such as in house sports classes, and IT resources.
- Access to information. While as an interim your work is limited to a support role, interims are often involved in work of their entity as if they would be regular staff members. If you are interested, you might be present at meetings and learn about a policy field in a way and depth that is not available for ‘outsiders’. I really cannot stress this benefit of an interim job and really rewards those who are curious and proactive in the long-term.
How to Become Interim Staff in EU Institutions
To become an interim staff member in EU institutions such as the European Commission, you should first register with one of the recruitment agencies, like Randstad or Start People in Brussels.
If you want to apply as an interim in another location where EU institutions, EU Delegations or EU agencies are located, you will find information on the institution’s website about which company is servicing that institution. If you are unable to find this information, give the institution a call.
Interims vs Trainees
Interims are generally better paid compared to trainees, but work of interims is more demanding. While trainees have a set fee in all EU institutions that is adjusted by the correction coefficient, an interim’s pay depends on the position the person is hired for and the interim’s expertise.
While trainees are perceived as very junior colleagues and not much is expected of them (hence, the surprise when a rare trainee really delivers), interims are expected to ‘pull their weight’ and perform in the role they are hired in.
That being said, both being an interim and a trainee gives you roughly similar advantages when trying to secure a permanent position through a selection procedure run by EPSO or the respective EU institution.
Tips for Passing the Selection Process
Interims are whether by the “temping” agencies, that then in turn “offer” a shortlist of interims to the EU institution that is the temping agency’s client.
For this reason a prospective interim must think about presenting him or herself well in the eyes of the agency first.
To increase your chances of success, consider the following tips:
- Tailor your CV to the profile advertised by the temping agency: Focus on your skills, qualifications, and experiences that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Highlight your achievements, hands-on experience, and any expertise that is relevant to the specific institution or department.
- Give the impression that you are ‘stable hire’: temping agencies hate to hire a person and then have to look for a replacement in a few weeks. Even if you plan to find a more permanent job as quickly as possible, it makes sense to present yourself as somebody who is looking for a temporary position for at least half a year.
- Research the institution: Temping agencies will often announce for which European Commission DG or other EU institution they are recruiting interim staff. Show that you have a solid understanding of the institution, as well as the specific role and responsibilities.
- Practice for interviews: Be prepared to answer common interview questions and showcase your skills and competencies during an interview. If you have someone who already works in the “EU bubble”, ask that person to run a mock interview. You will definitively sound much more competent and convincing to the temping agency recruiter who might know even less about the EU institution than you do.
- Networking: Establish contacts within the EU institutions you are interested in working for. Attend networking events, connect with professionals on social media, or engage with European committees or working groups in your area of expertise. Once the temping agency presents a shortlist of possible interims to the EU institution, this might help to get you selected from the group of 3-5 candidates.
Temping Agencies in Brussels and Luxembourg
Agencies in Brussels
Agencies in Luxembourg
5, Rue des primeurs, L-2361 Strassen, Luxembourg
ADECCO Luxembourg S.A.
5, Rue des Mérovingiens, L-8070 Bertrange, Luxembourg
Moving On To A Permanent Job In EU Institutions
If you are an interim at the European Commission or another of the “seven main EU institutions” like the European Parliament, Court of Justice, Court of Auditors etc., to get a Contract Agent, Assistant, or Administrator position, you will have to pass EPSO selection procedures, which are very competitive.
As an interim is it much easier to be hired by the 40+ EU agencies located in various EU cities (some of them are also in Brussels). The EU agencies can use EPSO selection process, but most often run their own staff selections.
If as an interim you have performed well and networked successfully, it might greatly improve the chances of you being offered a contract among all other people being on the reserve list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Interim staff are temporary employees in the true sense of the work and work for EU institutions for a limited time and much more precarious employment conditions.
Contract Agents are one of the main regular staff categories at EU institutions, and they usually perform higher level tasks, particularly, in grades FG III and FG IV.
There is a substantial difference in pay between interims and Contract Agents, and interims receive almost none of the other benefits like allowances that CAs are entitled to.
Interim staff salaries are determined by various factors such as their qualifications, experience, and the position they are hired for. However, the interim staff salaries are not comparable and are much lower than the full remuneration packages of “regular staff” of EU institutions.
The length of interim staff contracts at the European Commission and EU institutions can vary.
While some contracts may only last a few weeks or months if they are tied to a particular project, others may last a up to 1.5-2 years.
Staffing agencies collaborate with the European Commission by providing candidates for interim staff positions. They screen and interview potential candidates, then send their profiles to the European Commission for consideration. Once a candidate is selected, the person will work for the European Commission but all administrative details will be handled by the staffing agency and the interim remains an employee of the staffing agency.
The process is similar at the EU agencies.
Several staffing agencies work with the European Commission to provide interim staff. Some of the well-known agencies include Randstad, Adecco, and Start People. However, this list is not exhaustive, and there may be other agencies that collaborate with the European Commission for specific positions or locations.