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Decision of the European Ombudsman concerning traineeships

Available languages: en

Article 1 - General provisions

The European Ombudsman has adopted the following internal rules on the conditions governing traineeships, after consultation with the Staff Committee.

The European Ombudsman offers traineeships to university or higher education graduates with a keen interest in European Union public administration and, in particular, in how the EU administration relates to citizens.

The Traineeship Notice will specify the streams[1] in which traineeship opportunities will be available each year.

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.

Without prejudice to the specific qualifications and selection criteria provided in the Traineeship Notice, candidates should, as a minimum, possess a 3-year university degree or diploma or other qualification at a corresponding level.

Trainees shall be assigned to Strasbourg or Brussels, depending on the needs of the Office and the interest of the service.

There will normally be two training periods: one starting from 1 September and the other from 1 January each year.

Article 2 - Aim of a traineeship

A traineeship is intended to provide recent graduates with practical experience of the work of the European Ombudsman and to enable them to build on the knowledge and skills acquired during their studies.

The tasks of trainees, depending on the stream of the particular traineeship will include assisting in the investigation of complaints, assisting in the area of media and communications, work on IT projects or on research relevant to the work of the Ombudsman. Trainees work under the direct supervision of an official or agent of the European Ombudsman, normally a Head of Unit or equivalent.

Article 3 - Duration

The maximum duration of a traineeship is a full year.

A traineeship is initially offered for a period of four months and will, upon satisfactory completion of the four months period, normally be extended for another eight months, provided both parties agree.

Article 4 - Eligibility conditions

Candidates should:

  1. be nationals of a Member State of the European Union, or of a candidate country for accession to the EU;
  2. have a university degree or diploma of at least three years (or an equivalent qualification) in one of the disciplines mentioned in footnote 1;
  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 is English. A very good knowledge of English is therefore required;

Article 5 - Selection procedure

  1. Annually, normally on 1 February each calendar year, the Ombudsman will issue a Traineeship Notice inviting applications for both traineeship periods and specifying the relevant Streams and other conditions.
  2. For both traineeship periods (starting on 1 September or on 1 January), applications must be registered by the date stated in the Notice.
  3. Unless otherwise provided, applications must be registered through the online application system on the Website of the European Ombudsman and include the following documents:
    • a completed application form;
    • the applicant's curriculum vitae drafted in English;
    • a one page-cover letter in English explaining the reasons and the motivation for applying for the traineeship;
    • a letter of reference;
    • copies of the applicant’s diplomas, degrees, or certificates (copies do not need to be certified); and
    • a copy of the applicant's ID card or passport.
  4. Longlisted applicants will be invited to take a written test.
  5. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview, normally on the phone.
  6. In case an applicant with a disability is selected, s/he will be provided, if needed, with reasonable accommodation at work to enable him/her to carry out the tasks assigned to him/her[2].
  7. A communication informing applicants of the decision taken on their applications shall be sent on 30 June at the latest, for both training periods. Applicants who were not successful in their application may apply for another training period by submitting a new application.
  8. The processing of personal data by the European Ombudsman is governed by Regulation (EC) No 45/2001[3]. 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 provided in the application (including personal data in the supporting documents). The provision of information requested when applying online and the supporting documents is obligatory. Incomplete applications will be automatically excluded from the registration system. The personal data in question are collected by the Office of the European Ombudsman for the sole purpose of the selection of trainees. 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 nine 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, unless they need to 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.

Data subjects have the right to have recourse at any time to the Data Protection Officer of the European Ombudsman (DPO-Euro-Ombudsman@ombudsman.europa.eu) or to the European Data Protection Supervisor (edps@edps.europa.eu).

Article 6 - Financial arrangements

A. Scholarships

Trainees may apply for a scholarship during the traineeship period. Trainees who will receive a salary or other financial support of a similar nature during the period of the traineeship should declare it. In such cases, the amount of the scholarship paid by the Ombudsman’s Office will correspond to the difference, if any, between the amount of the external support and the value of a full scholarship.

The amount of a scholarship is equivalent to 25% of the basic salary of staff in grade AD 6 step 1 applicable at the moment the offer is made, plus the household allowance, where appropriate. In this respect, provisions applicable to officials of the European Union apply by analogy. This amount may be altered by decision of the European Ombudsman.

If an applicant with a disability is selected, the Ombudsman’s Office will make appropriations available to cover additional costs related directly to the condition of the selected trainee and which are insufficiently covered by the scholarship

B. 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 and accession countries 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 sleeping car, if necessary;
  • economy class air fare, for the cheapest route, 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 luggage is possible, subject to prior approval by the Ombudsman's services. The maximum amount of luggage for which reimbursement is possible is 50 kg.

No other person than the person benefitting from the traineeship will be reimbursed any expenses.

C. 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 apply 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 in addition to the trainee's primary health insurance, as well as accident insurance. The European Ombudsman pays the full costs for both the additional 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 - 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 (PAB) 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 of the European Union shall apply 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 9 - General obligations for the trainees

  1. Trainees must undertake to observe the rules and practices applicable at the Ombudsman’s office, in particular:
    • the instructions of their superiors and of the official or agent under whose guidance they are placed;
    • the established office hours; and
    • the rules and procedures 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 the 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 whatever work carried out during the traineeship.

Article 10 - Supervision

In addition to the direct supervision of an official or agent of the European Ombudsman, each trainee shall be assigned a mentor at the beginning of the traineeship. The role of a mentor is to supervise the daily work and facilitate the integration of the trainee in the institution.

Individual objectives shall be set by the Head of Unit responsible for the trainee at the beginning of the traineeship. The objectives are explained to the trainee in an initial meeting. After two months, a progress meeting shall take place with the responsible Head of Unit, with a view to checking whether an extension of the traineeship beyond the initial four months is desired by both parties and whether it can be recommended.

In case of an extension, two further meetings shall take place with the responsible Head of Unit, after eight months and at the end of the traineeship.

An exit interview shall be conducted at the end of the traineeship by the Head of Unit for Personnel, Administration and Budget in order to get feedback from the trainee.

Article 11 - Suspension, early termination and end of traineeship

Requests for suspension of a traineeship will be granted by the Ombudsman in exceptional circumstances only, while having regard to the interests of the service. 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.b. above.

The Ombudsman may terminate the traineeship at any stage. This can occur either following the trainee’s request which should be addressed to the Head of the PAB Unit, at least one month in advance, 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. In the latter cases, the trainee shall first be given the opportunity to be heard.

Article 12 - Coming into force and transition period

This Decision shall enter into force on the day of its signature and will be applicable to traineeships starting as from 1 September 2017. Traineeships started before that date will remain governed by the decision of the European Ombudsman concerning traineeships adopted on 24 September 2013.

Strasbourg, 23/01/2017

Emily O'Reilly


[1] Typical streams are the following: I) European Public Administration, II) Law, III) Audit & Statistics, IV) Communication & Media, V) IT & Web development. The disciplines in which the degree or diploma has been obtained are: for Stream I), political science; European studies; international affairs/relations, European public administration; human resources; for Stream II), law, for Stream III), economics, audit and statistics, for Stream IV), media and communication, for Stream V) IT, computer science or web development.

[2] By analogy to the reasonable accommodation defined in Article 1 d (4) of the Staff Regulations of Officials and Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Community: ‘appropriate measures, where needed, to enable a person with a disability to have access to, participate in, or advance in employment, or to undergo training, unless such measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer’.

[3] 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).