luni, 9 ianuarie 2012

Working in EU-Affairs in Brussels – beyond the EU institutions

Brussels hosts more than 100.000 persons working in EU affairs. Less than 50% are based in the EU institutions, the vast majority: over 50.000 people, have a job in industry federations, consultancies, media, corporate, nonprofit organizations, think tanks or region and city representations.

As Europe's capital, Brussels has an a-typical and specific job-market. It hosts national, regional, international and sectorial stakeholders that, together with the EU Institutions, form the so called “Community of EU-Actors”.

'Perm Rep's': Countries, Regions and Cities

Every EU member state has a Permanent Representation to the EU, based in Brussels. These offices represent the country's interest in the EU, as well as giving policy advice to their national politicians like the Europe Minister and Prime Minister.

In addition there are also Permanent Representations of European Regions to the EU, based in Brussels, like the 'West Midlands European Service' – a region in the UK; or the West Finland European office. These regional offices represent and promote their regions, providing services to their people.

Adding another layer to this are the Representations of Cities to the EU, based in Brussels, like the City of Prague. These offices represent, promote and organize their cities, like the representations above, but on a more narrow scale.

Industry & Unions

About 3.000 (big) corporations (Microsoft, Shell, Visa), trade associations, industry federations (European Banking Federation, European Wind and Energy Association, Eurometaux), unions and chambers of commerce (British Chamber of Commerce, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Eurochambers) have an office in Brussels in order to be present in the community of EU-Actors. Even though most of these offices are relatively small, employing 1-5 people, almost 50% of people employed are doing work related to Public Affairs.

Member organizations of Eurometaux make clear why this federation is present in Brussels: they feel that the federation “constitutes the interface between the European non-ferrous metals industry and the European authorities and international or intergovernmental bodies” and that Eurometaux “ committed to establishing dialogue with the latter in order to ensure early consultation in all fields of policy and legislation that may affect industry and to asserting the sector's views and positions in this respect.”

This is widely applicable: all these legal entities are present in Brussels in order to advocate their views or the views of their members – and need employees to accomplish this.


There are about 400 consultancy companies based in Brussels. They are a-typical from other consultancies in the sense that they mainly focus on EU-Affairs. Consultancies focus on Public Affairs (Edelman, Pleon, Fleishman Hillard, etc.), Public Relations (Ogilvy, Hill & Knowlton, Grayling, etc.), EU Project Management (Tipik, Quentes, etc.) and Association Management (Kellen Europe, AGEP, etc.).

Consultancies like Hill & Knowlton ensure that clients communicate their points of view to the audiences that matter. The teams working at these consultancies are international, multilingual, diverse and dynamic, consistently delivering services with real, commercial return.


95% of the journalists in Brussels are correspondents of national media. However, this amount is declining, due to money issues, but also because of technological developments which make it easier to report on the EU from the national offices.

The remaining 5% is covered by EU specialized media (3%) like EurActiv, European Voice, EU Observer and by international media (2%) like FT, BBC, International Herald Tribune.

NGO's and Think-tanks

NGOs like WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Red Cross, Youth Forum, and Caritas Europe have EU offices in Brussels. Greenpeace 'EU-Unit' says there's “based in Brussels, where we monitor and analyse the work of the institutions of the European Union (EU), expose deficient EU policies and laws, and challenge decision-makers to implement progressive solutions”.

Brussels also houses a lot of Think-tanks, like Friends of Europe, Centre for European Policy Studies, European Policy Centre, etc. The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) was founded in Brussels in 1983 and “is among the most experienced and authoritative think tanks operating in the European Union today”. They provide a forum for debate on EU Affairs, and have an in-house research department as well as an extensive network of partner institutes across the world.

Map of Brussels

This is just a superficial glance on job opportunities in Brussels. There are more sectors/fields to look at, depending on your interest and background: law firms, political parties, platform organisations, international organisations in Brussels (UN, etc.).

Doing some research it seems that all legal entities present in Brussels are here mainly for this: to advocate/communicate their views or the views of their members as stakeholders in EU affairs – and they need employees to accomplish this.

Being in constant contact with them and providing coaching on the spot, it is my experience that most of the 3.000 industry associations; 400 consultancy companies; 300 region representations; and 200 nonprofit organizations across Europe employ people in Brussels, providing a world of opportunities when you know where to look.

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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