Expat Life: How Is Working In The EU Institutions



Brussels is a city of expats. It's the headquarters for NATO, the EU and other international organisations. It's also home to many multinational companies and organisations.


Regarding the EU Institutions, they are the main decision-making bodies of the European Union. There are three institutions: the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. These institutions work together to make sure that EU law is enforced and that policies are carried out in all member states.


The EU Institutions are based in Brussels and Luxembourg, but they also have offices in other countries.

Working in an international organisation like the EU Institutions is a great opportunity for expats and especially for their families. They work hard to make sure that all employees are treated equally and with respect, regardless of their nationality or background. Moreover, the work and the people are interesting, and the environment is unique.


The EU institutions are home to around 45,000 employees – with another 5,000 arriving each year – who represent more than 130 nationalities.


As an expat, you will be able to take advantage of a wide range of benefits including:


  • Free language classes;

  • A good salary (based on the value of your home country) and pension scheme;

  • Family-friendly working conditions (flexible working hours and locations);

  • Paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers;

  • Free medical insurance for yourself and your family;

  • And much more!


There are four official languages in the EU institutions: English, French, German and Italian. So if you don't speak one of those, you'll have to learn it quickly! There's also a lot of jargon specific to the institutions that you might find confusing at first - but everyone is really helpful.



Working Permit Regulations


You can work in the EU institutions as an expat, but there are some restrictions.


If you are an EU citizen, you can work for one of the institutions without any problem. However, if you are not and you want to work in an EU institution, there are certain criteria that must be met.


You must be a citizen of an EU country or a country with which the EU has a special agreement on working rights (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). This will allow you to obtain a residence permit as a self-employed worker under the terms of this agreement.


If you come from another country (outside the EU), your employer must prove that he cannot find European workers willing to do this job. If he cannot find European workers, he will have to apply for authorisation to employ non-EU citizens and pay them a salary corresponding to what they would earn in their home country. In addition, they will have to pay social security contributions both in Belgium and in their home countries.


The main benefit of working for one of the EU institutions is that it gives you the chance to develop your career and gain experience in international affairs.

You will learn about diplomacy and politics first-hand, which can be very useful if you want to pursue your career abroad.


Moreover, working in an international environment is also a great way to meet new people from all over Europe as well as other parts of the world.


Working at an EU institution can be challenging because it involves long hours and lots of responsibility but if you love challenges and being part of something bigger than yourself then this could be just what you need!



How To Make Friends


The EU institutions are full of people from all over Europe, and there is a thriving expat community in Brussels. According to Emma, our source person who works in the EU Commission, many people she met at her first job were British, Irish or Scottish. They were always extremely friendly and helpful, and often willing to go out for a drink after work.


The best way to meet other expats is by joining them at one of the many social events organised by embassies in Brussels.

As Emma is British, there are also lots of opportunities to meet other Brits through sport (rugby, cricket, football), culture (theatre clubs) or religion (churches).


If you're looking for something more formal and professional then there's no shortage of networking events for expats organised by various companies or organisations. There are also plenty of informal get-togethers where people just go over to each other's houses for a drink and chat.


You can also join the European Parliament's International Group (IPG) - which aims to bring together all international staff working at the Parliament, regardless of nationality. You can also find links to other groups on its website.