Urging those with the right qualifications to "go for it", public service minister Peter Kilfoyle said last week: "The UK does not have enough nationals working for the EU compared to the other big member states, so we need to make the most of recruitment opportunities like this one, when they arise.
"I want the best British graduates to know that they can have an exciting, well-paid career if they apply for the Parliament recruitment competition, which, unusually, is for English speakers only; there may not be another chance like this for some time to come."
Because of concern about Britain's under-representation in jobs at the EU institutions, the Government has set up a free vacancy information service. Although staff are recruited by fair and open competition without national quotas, the UK consistently provides one of the lowest numbers of applicants in the European Union.
The competition was announced in the Official Journal of the European Communities earlier this month and advertisements in national newspapers are expected this week.
The positions being advertised are for English-language administrators at the A7 and A8 levels, where the minimum salaries are about pounds 32,800 and pounds 29,000 respectively, with the maximum pay about pounds 42,200 and pounds 30,000.
Officials are stressing that candidates for the administrative posts will only have to show knowledge of another language besides English, but fluency in that language is not required. "A confident command (normally something between good A-Level and first- year university standard) must be demonstrated," says the Cabinet Office. In addition, the age limit for the Parliament's two lowest graduate grades has been raised to 45, a move welcomed by Mr Kilfoyle.
It is envisaged that between 40 and 60 posts in the Parliament's Brussels and Luxembourg-based permanent secretariat will be filled.
For the parallel competition for lawyers, being run with the European Court of Justice, applicants will require French as a second language as well as legal qualifications.
"The Parliament represents the European citizen. People working in it really have the chance to help make a difference to the way the European Union will develop, especially as it takes on the challenges of enlargement to the new democracies of central and eastern Europe," he added.
The Cabinet Office has a European staffing team that supplies information about this and future competitions - such as the one without language restrictions expected to be announced shortly by the European Commission - and can also provide advice, reading material and, wherever possible, training.
It can be contacted by writing to the European Staffing Team, Room 61/A, Office of Public Service, Horse Guards Road, London SW1P 3AL; tel: 0171 270 6312.
Alternatively, candidates can obtain application forms and criteria for eligibility from the Personnel Unit, European Parliament Secretariat, L-2929 Luxembourg (tel: 00 353 4300 1). The closing date for applications is 24 April.Reuse content