Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

Focus

New EU exam to axe dreaded quiz on union trivia

  • EU's recruitment office switches to more modern exams (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission will next week present new recruitment procedures for EU officials, scrapping the dreaded quiz about the bloc's institutions and history. The new system should also shorten the delays in publishing results and the months or years of waiting for a job after having passed the exam.

Graduates and professionals tempted to become an EU official so far faced two major off-putting hurdles: the EU questionnaire and the lengthy procedures, at the end of which the only guarantee was to be put on a waiting list.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Some landed a job within a few months after passing the exam, others are still on the list one year later.

"I studied two years for my exam, passed it out of 7,000 candidates for 50 places and since 2009 I am still on the reserve list, waiting to be called by an EU institution. Like me, many laureates who spent time and money are waiting too," one young EU official to be told this website.

Horror stories about the questions asked in the EU quiz include obscure trivia, which have no relevance to the job someone is applying for. One translator was asked what was the year when the EU institutions adopted new accounting standards and how many employees the Committee of the Regions had.

"It's a great thing they are eliminating the EU test, those questions were crazy. They were only promoting people who learned random things by heart, not the ones who actually had relevant skills," said another candidate, who has now found a job within the EU institutions.

The new exam organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (Epso) will be unveiled next Thursday (11 March) by the commissioner in charge of administrative issues, Maros Sefcovic. Actual registration for the next "concours" will kick off the following week, on 16 March.

"Whilst we wouldn't say that candidates recruited under the new system are 'better' than those already recruited, the shift from knowledge to competency-based assessment allows Epso to provide the EU institutions with candidates who have a range of competency," Michael Mann, Mr Sefcovic's spokesman told this website.

Unlike in previous years, when it was very hard to predict how many exams were organised each year, depending on the EU institution's ad hoc or long-term needs, Epso will now hold only one competition a year for each category of EU official: administrator, assistant and linguist. This should force the EU parliament, council, commission, courts and a wide range of agencies, to plan their personnel needs better and drain the existing pool of "waiting lists."

Competence profiles of the candidates, based on situational interviews and simulations should replace the "academic" selection procedures so far, which mostly relied on CVs and other paperwork.

But the new exam will not exclude so-called internal competitions run by the EU commission, which people who passed the Epso exam and are now waiting for a job offer from institutions slam as an "unfair shortcut" for people on short-term contracts to get into long-term jobs.

Exams for nationals from specific countries, which were held to boost the ranks of officials from new member states, are also likely to be scrapped.

The waiting lists will from now on remain valid for only one year, until the new exam is held the following spring. EU officials admit however that this is a "learning process" and that the efficiency of the new exam remains to be seen.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists