Today as part of EU week on the blog, we have an article from Nikolas Lane, about how he get into the EU and what he loves about his job!
Employer: European Parliament, DG Presidency
Occupation: Acting Director for Presidency Services
Studied: Modern History, International Relations, Oxford
As an undergraduate I didn’t have a clear idea, indeed any idea frankly, of what I wanted to do in life, so I hung around university for a while in the hope that at some point the fog would lift. However, I was always interested in politics and international relations and from a young age the idea of living abroad had held a certain attraction. An EU career would seem to have been a nice fit but at this stage it didn’t really occur to me.
If truth be told it was a romantic interest that brought me first to Brussels (and I’m still married to her!). In Brussels I managed to get a job working for a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and then moved into the private sector by which time I had decided that a job in the EU Institutions ticked all the boxes. The first “concours” (recruitment procedure) that came along was one for Administrators in the Parliament. I took it, managed to pass and found myself not long afterwards working for a Parliamentary committee helping to draft EU legislation. A few years later I moved to the secretariat that assists the work of the two political bodies which run the Parliament. Subsequently, I joined the communication and public relations department at a time of enormous change in that area generated by the advent of new media. Currently, I work mainly in the fields of legislative planning and interinstitutional relations which means a lot of contacts with the European Commission and Council and advising the political leadership in Parliament in its management of legislative business.
The European Parliament is perhaps not the first place that would come to mind if you are thinking for an EU career. But it is a dynamic institution, nothing to do with the image prevalent in the public mind, and an interesting place to have viewed successive Treaty changes of which it has been the principal beneficiary.
Because it must agree to virtually all EU legislation, the budget, and trade and other international agreements, there are jobs in the Parliament dealing with most policy areas. What’s more you are, more or less, obliged to move every few years so there is no risk of getting stuck in a rut.
MEPs and Parliament officials are a pretty diverse bunch and to make sense of that diversity it helps to be interested in and to follow developments in European politics and society. But you don’t have to be starry-eyed or unconditionally committed to everything to do with European integration. Nor, I would stress, do you have to be a professional linguist. I shudder to think what my French was like when I sat for the concours. I’m still fairly hopeless at languages; the only difference is that daily practice has made them a little more serviceable.
Politics and policy, an international environment and an interesting employer – those were boxes that I ticked when I decided I wanted an EU career. They’d be my boxes today and I’d still tick them.