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Decision of the European Ombudsman concerning traineeships

Available languages: en

Article 1  General provisions

The Ombudsman offers traineeships in the handling of complaints and inquiries. Such traineeships are offered twice a year and are intended for university law graduates.

Where the Ombudsman is, exceptionally, also able to offer traineeships in areas other than that of handling complaints and inquiries (e.g., in communication or IT), a specific call for expressions of interest will be published on the Ombudsman's website.

Trainees shall be assigned to Strasbourg or Brussels depending on the possibilities of the Office. Traineeships normally start on 1 September and 1 January each year.

Article 2  Aims of Traineeships

With the aim of complementing the knowledge and skills which the trainees have acquired during their studies, traineeships are intended to provide recent graduates with practical experience of the work of the European Ombudsman.

Trainees usually undertake the investigation of complaints, work on projects or carry out research relevant to the work of the Ombudsman. They work under the direct supervision of an official or agent of the European Ombudsman.

Article 3  Eligibility conditions

Applicants should:

1. be nationals from a Member State of the European Union;

2. have a university degree in law and be at an advanced stage of professional training, or research, in EU law; and

3. Have a thorough knowledge of one of the official languages of the European Union and a good knowledge of a second. The main working language of the European Ombudsman's office as regards the handling of complaints and inquiries is English. A very good knowledge of English is therefore required. Knowledge of French would be an advantage.

If the interest of the service so requires, the Ombudsman may derogate from these conditions.

Where the Ombudsman is able to offer traineeships in areas other than that of handling complaints and inquiries, the eligibility criteria to be fulfilled by candidates are set out in the specific call for expressions of interest that will be published on the Ombudsman's website. 

Article 4  Duration

The traineeship usually has a minimum duration of four months. It can be extended for a period left to the Ombudsman's discretion, normally up to a maximum of twelve months.

Article 5  Admission procedure

1. Using the form provided for that purpose, applications should be sent to the Office of the European Ombudsman, together with the following supporting documents:

  • a copy of the applicant's curriculum vitae;
  • a cover letter in English explaining the reasons for applying for the traineeship;
  • copies of diplomas, degrees, or certificates;
  • a copy of the applicant's ID card or passport; and
  • a financial declaration[1].

2. Candidates should apply either for the traineeship period starting on 1 September or the period starting on 1 January. Applications must be sent before 30 April for the traineeship period starting on 1 September and before 31 August for the traineeship period starting on 1 January of the following year.

3. An acknowledgement of receipt shall be sent to the applicant within 15 working days.

4. Applicants shall be selected according to their merits, taking into account the interests of the service and the financial and logistical capacity of the Office to receive trainees in an appropriate working environment.

5. A letter informing applicants of the decision taken on their application shall be sent before the end of July for the period starting on 1 September or before the end of November for the period starting on 1 January. Applicants who were not successful in their initial application may apply for another training period by submitting a new application.

6. The processing of personal data by the European Ombudsman is governed by Regulation (EC) No 45/2001[2]. By submitting an application for a traineeship, the applicant is understood, in the sense of Article 5 (d) of the Regulation, to have given his/her consent to the processing of the personal data contained in the application form and the supporting documents enclosed therewith. The provision of information requested in the application form and the supporting documents is obligatory. Incomplete applications will be excluded from the selection. The personal data in question are collected by the Office of the European Ombudsman for the sole purpose of the selection of trainees by its services. Applicants have a right to access and to rectify their own personal data kept by the Office of the European Ombudsman.

Personal data concerning unsuccessful applicants shall be destroyed six months after the beginning of the traineeship period for which such data were collected. Applications submitted for a given traineeship period shall not be taken into consideration for future selections of trainees or for recruitment purposes.

Applications of successful applicants shall be kept by the Office of the European Ombudsman for two years after the end of the traineeship and may be transferred to other Institutions of the European Union for administrative purposes and audit purposes.

The list of the names of trainees serving and having served in the Ombudsman's office is a public document.

Article 6  Financial arrangements


Trainees who do not receive a salary or other form of financial support receive a scholarship during the traineeship period.

The amount of a scholarship is 25% of the basic salary of staff on grade AD 6 step 1, plus the household allowance, where appropriate. In this respect, provisions applicable to civil servants are applied by analogy. This amount may be altered by decision of the European Ombudsman.

Variations in the basic salary of staff on grade AD 6 are applied as from January each year.

The level of financial support for trainees receiving external support will be determined on an individual basis. It will not normally exceed the difference, if any, between the amount of external support and the value of a scholarship.

Travel expenses incurred at the beginning and end of the traineeship

Trainees who are not entitled to claim travel expenses from any other source may claim reimbursement of the cost of travel within the territory of the European Union between their place of residence and Strasbourg/Brussels at the beginning and end of the traineeship, as follows:

  • second class rail fare by the most direct route, with couchette or T2 sleeping car, if necessary;
  • economy class air fare if that is less expensive, or if the rail journey exceeds 500 km, or if the journey involves a sea crossing. The cost of air tickets shall be reimbursed only on presentation of supporting documents;
  • kilometric allowance of EUR 0.20 for travel by car, based on the shortest route as determined by commonly used route planning websites.

The booking of transportation tickets at the start and/or the end of the traineeship is made by the European Ombudsman's office. Trainees may however book transportation tickets on their own, subject to prior approval by the Ombudsman's services.

Reimbursement of fees payable for excess baggage is possible, subject to prior approval by the Ombudsman's services. The maximum amount of baggage for which reimbursement is possible is 50 kg.

Trainees shall bear the costs for travel expenses for their spouse, children and pets.

Mission expenses incurred during the traineeship

For the reimbursement of expenses incurred during duly authorised missions, the provisions applicable to officials of the European Union shall be applied by analogy.

Article 7  Insurance

Trainees must be insured against sickness and accident. Whenever possible, trainees shall keep the primary insurance policy they had before their arrival at the Ombudsman's office. The European Ombudsman shall take out a sickness insurance policy which is complementary to the trainee's primary health insurance, as well as an accident insurance. The European Ombudsman pays the full costs for both the complementary health insurance and the accident insurance.

At the request of the trainee, the European Ombudsman shall also insure his or her spouse and children against the risk of sickness and accident. In such cases, the trainee shall pay the insurance premiums in full.

Article 8  General obligations for the trainees

1. Trainees must undertake to observe:

  • the instructions of their superiors and of the official or agent under whose guidance they are placed;
  • established office hours; and
  • the rules and procedures of the European Ombudsman, including those relating to public access to, and confidentiality of, documents.


2. Trainees must not have any professional connections with third parties that might be incompatible with their traineeship. They shall be required to respect the obligations of confidentiality imposed on the Ombudsman and his or her staff by the Statute of the European Ombudsman. They shall observe the utmost discretion with regard to facts and information that come to their knowledge during the traineeship. They shall remain bound by that obligation after the completion of their traineeship.

3. Trainees must contribute to the work of the service to which they are assigned. The European Ombudsman shall retain all rights to the research carried out during the traineeship.

Article 9  Leave and sickness

Trainees are entitled to two working days' leave for each month of the traineeship.

In exceptional circumstances, trainees may ask the Head of the Personnel, Administration and Budget Unit for permission to be absent from work. Such requests will in particular be examined in the light of the special leave provisions applicable to the Ombudsman's officials. If an authorisation is granted, the procedures applicable to officials shall be applied by analogy.

If absent as a result of sickness, trainees must notify the Ombudsman's office immediately. Absences of more than three days must be justified by a medical certificate.

Article 10 Suspension and termination of traineeship

Requests for suspension of a traineeship will be granted in exceptional circumstances only, and in accordance with the interests of the service. The Ombudsman's decision is discretionary. During a period of suspension of a traineeship, scholarship payments will be suspended. Suspension of the traineeship shall not entitle the trainee to reimbursement of travel expenses under Article 6 above.

The Ombudsman may terminate the traineeship at any stage, at the request of the trainee, or in cases in which performance is deemed to be unsatisfactory or in which the trainee has failed to observe the terms of the traineeship.

Article 11 Status vis-à-vis the institutions of the European Union

The awarding of a traineeship shall under no circumstances confer on recipients the status of official or other servant of the European Union, nor shall it entitle them in any way to subsequent recruitment to any European Union institution.

Article 12 Coming into force and transition period

This decision shall enter into force on 24 September 2013. It replaces the decision governing traineeships dated 20 November 2006.

Strasbourg, 24/09/2013

P. Nikiforos Diamandouros


[1] In this declaration, which can be handwritten and must be signed, candidates must declare, on their honour, "that they will not receive any external financial support during the period of a possible traineeship" or the amount of the external financial support that they would receive, should that be the case.

[2] Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data (OJ 2001 L 8, p. 1).