Blog: Experiencing the European Parliament from the inside: Traineeship at the European Parliament
December 2, 2022

Blog: Experiencing the European Parliament from the inside: Traineeship at the European Parliament

We are at a point in time when the European Union must become a real global power for democracy – flying the flag of liberal democracies in a world that is becoming increasingly complicated and dangerous. These are the words of the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, describing the times we live in and the need to take bold decisions and action.

I know how far we can go in our fight for democracy. I am Ukrainian, and although I am just 19, I have witnessed many struggles for democratic change. It is difficult to preserve values when you are under a missile attack. It is difficult to have liberty when you are under occupation. But who said that true European values and democracy come for granted? 

EU membership is a crucial goal for Ukraine. Being part of the European Union means a lot to the people of Ukraine. In September, I started my traineeship in the European Parliament in the office of Greek MEP Georgios Kyrtsos, who joined the programme organised as part of EU solidarity with Ukraine. A number of MEPs welcomed Ukrainians at their offices after the selection process and interviews. Traineeships can be awarded for a period of between six weeks and five months. All trainees receive a monthly allowance, which varies depending on the work hours per week. I found out about this opportunity in the internal chat of the Ukrainian Young European Ambassadors, and I am grateful to the initiative for the chance to try myself in a new role and develop my skills and knowledge. 

“We are glad that you are here!” This is how the office welcomed me in the Parliament. My colleague Stefanos has a Ukrainian flag on his table, as a reminder of what is going on. Every corner of the European Parliament says “We stand for Ukraine”. The first days felt unreal since I became part of a huge community of different people from different countries, who work together on the same project – Europe. Meetings, round-tables, panel discussions, plenaries, events, and exhibitions are all part of daily work in the Parliament. It is a place of constant movement, change, and development. 

The day of a trainee usually consists of researching information from the field the MEP is working in, attending group meetings on different topics, and sometimes you need to undertake particular missions, like the Strasbourg plenary session. Usually, you get direct instructions on what to do from your office. 

The Parliament’s work consists of multiple standing committees that work for particular purposes. Since the MEP I’m working for is engaged in two committees named ECON and AFET, which are the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs respectively, I often visit different hearings connected to the topics. The AFET often organises meetings with prominent figures from all over the world, starting in African countries and ending in Latin America. We always discuss how we can help others in their fight for democracy, and how we can elaborate on our cooperation. One of the key partners now is Ukraine. It was a pleasure to meet a lot of prominent Ukrainians during the sittings, who are actively involved in the work of the Parliament, which really impressed me. The ECON organises essential debates that grasp a wide range of economic policy issues. When there’s a reasonable risk in markets caused by Russia’s unprovoked war, the committee is working hard to find a resolution and look for the best approach toward upcoming challenges. The trainee needs to prepare summaries of such meetings and inform the MEP if there are any disputes or conflicts of interest. 

There are seven political groups in the European Parliament, consisting of 705 MEPs. Currently, I am working for Renew Europe, a liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament. We initiate a lot of events that draw attention to the war in Ukraine. For example, there was an exhibition of photos taken in Ukraine on the frontier and in unoccupied cities to remind people of the terrible events that are happening in Ukraine. And recently, I prepared a brief about Russian propaganda in the EU that was used by the MEP during the plenary debates. 

The European Parliament is a very friendly and welcoming environment. You can just walk through the corridors drinking coffee and run into Roberta Metsola, who will always smile and talk to you. You can eat together with MEPs in the canteen, discussing politics, economics, and whatever comes up in your conversation. You can attend marvellous events organised by different delegations and embassies, that create a lovely atmosphere full of authentic spirit. You can taste their cuisine, listen to their music and meet some officials. You are engaged in the amendment-making process, information preparing, and fact-checking. Later you see how the legislation is voted on during the plenary, which usually takes place in Strasbourg. 

The Parliament gives young ambitious people an opportunity to get acquainted with crucial legislative processes, political practices, and policies. It is a place where you are heard, helped, and facilitated. Your ideas and initiatives are valued, your goals and dreams are realised, and your commitment is appreciated. 

To get this unique experience and become trainees in the European Parliament, young professionals can apply for the Schuman traineeship. The programme is named after Robert Schuman, one of the main architects of the European integration project, responsible for over 70 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. 

For me, as a Ukrainian, it is of high importance to gain experience working in the European Parliament, as I can bring these ideas back home and spread them among people. I strongly believe that Ukraine is ready for change, and a huge step towards EU membership. 

In our initiative of Young European Ambassadors, the key value is solidarity, as we are stronger together. And this feeling of being joint and several is what drives our people to enormous results, which at first may seem impossible.

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