Interns in EU institutions to rate their employers

A new initiative is set to be launched to give interns working in the EU institutions a chance to rate their employers.

European Commission | Photo credit: Fotolia

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

08 Nov 2017

The move is timed to coincide with International Interns’ Day (IID) on Friday, which sees events in Belgrade, Brussels, Budapest, Geneva, Ljubljana, Montréal, Paris and Prague.

It also comes amid the ongoing controversy about sexual harassment at work, highlighted by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and cases involving various politicians which have come to light in recent days.

Bryn Watkins, of Brussels-based interns NGO BINGO, said he hopes the launch of ‘Transparency at work’, an EU-funded ratings platform for early career work experiences, will help improve the plight facing many interns in Brussels.


Created by a broad coalition of European NGOs and universities, the platform will be available from Friday for young people to rate their internships, apprenticeships and jobs.

In six months, the ratings will be made public and the ranking published, said Watkins.

He said, “Our aim is to empower young workers to make wise career choices, encourage good practice from employers, and gather useful data about Europe’s youth employment market.”

The IID this week will further highlight the difficulties facing many interns, he believes.

Watkins told this website, “Harassment is a very interesting issue. Obviously interns, especially young women, are in a very vulnerable position because of the huge power gap with their employers.

“The IID is a chance to think about the progress we’re making on fair access to paid, quality internships in the Eurobubble and across Europe.”

In the past, the European External Action Service (EEAS) has been criticised by the EU ombudsman for not paying interns enough.

Watkins said some progress is being made, adding, “The EEAS is about to start paying, the Social Pillar could make a real difference and adverts for unpaid internships in Brussels are getting rarer.”

In the European Parliament, BINGO says one in 10 MEP interns are unpaid and the Commission has  hundreds of unpaid interns.

Watkins said, “Many ASBLs and NGOs use frankly questionable ‘volunteerships’ and the Belgian authorities largely ignore the situation, even though  they are being taken to court about it.”

On Friday, the Commission and European Youth Forum will organise a conference titled ‘Quality traineeships in the EU – Youth guarantee, European solidarity corps and beyond’.

It will provide a chance for European institutions, employers, and young people themselves to share views on quality traineeships.

A Commission source said, “Despite some improvement in national legislation since the adoption in 2014 of the EU Council recommendation on a quality framework for traineeships, in practice, young people still face many challenges.

“Many traineeships do not sufficiently fulfil their purpose, lack learning content, transparency on hiring practices and proper recognition.

“In addition, young people looking for an opportunity to enter the labour market often fall into a ‘traineeship trap’, completing one, often unpaid, traineeship after another, in order to gain experience and build connections.”

The Commission source added, “The need to ensure quality in traineeships is also crucial to the implementation of several EU-level initiatives supporting youth employment. Many member states are implementing the Youth Guarantee by offering traineeships to young people. 

“Traineeships will also be an important element of the occupational dimension of the European Solidarity Corps. The legislative proposal supporting the full rolling-out of the corps is to be adopted before the end of 2017.”


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