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International Civil Service

Employment in an international organisation

Belgium offers some unique opportunities for employment in what is sometimes called the ‘international civil service’ sector.

Brussels is home to not only the European Commission (central administrative body of the EU) but also to a number of other international and multinational organisations and agencies.

Working for these government and quasi-government agencies often entitles you to a sort of semi-diplomatic status, a variety of tax and social benefits and often a ‘comfortable’ salary.

Foremost among these opportunities is the European Union, often referred to simply as ‘Brussels’ on account of its overwhelming presence there. The EU and its various agencies, directorates, organisations and support functions employ more than 12,000 people in the area around Brussels. Only EU nationals can apply, and for most jobs you’re expected to have fluency in at least one or two languages other than your mother tongue. If you speak one of the more ‘unusual’ languages of the EU (e.g. Finnish, Greek or Danish), your chance of being hired will greatly improve and you may find yourself eligible for special training programmes as well.

Are you British?: EU agencies try to maintain a balance among employees from the various member countries, and British nationals are traditionally underrepresented in many job categories; so this is one place where British nationality can be a distinct advantage in looking for a job! The EU website (www.europa.eu ) links to many of the agencies and other departments within the EU, an increasing number of which are posting job vacancies on their websites.

NATO is another international organisation located in Belgium, employing around 3,000 people at its headquarters, and a few thousand more at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) located at Le Casteau, near Mons in Belgium. Employment is limited to nationals of the NATO member countries, which also includes the US, so Americans have a chance here. Apply through the delegation of your home country. NATO has a website (www.nato.int ), which includes links to listings of civilian job vacancies within the organisation.

There are also a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) located in various cities throughout Belgium, some of which enjoy some or all of the advantages of the so-called International Civil Service. Jobs for these and other international agencies are regularly posted in international publications, as well as on the organisations’ websites.


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