A new analysis has found that about half of interns working for one of the three major governmental departments of the EU are unpaid.
A vast majority of these unpaid interns— about 3,400— work for the European Parliament, an institution much like the U.S. Congress. It was revealed that some of these interns work up to 40 hours a week.
The European Commission, another big body, has about 200 unpaid interns, while the European External Action Service, which handles diplomacy matters, has over 400 unpaid interns.
Within these three agencies, the U.S. has about 8,000 interns in total. The figures were revealed by BINGO, a Brussels-based NGO.
Martin Schulz, the European Parliament’s president, had commented earlier this year how he felt that it was ridiculous how parliament members are given €22,000 to pay their staff “and still find a way to have unpaid interns.”
The EU is currently investigating a complaint from one of these unpaid interns who argued that their treatment has been unfair. A verdict on the complaint is expected sometime next month.
For all of the EU’s unpaid interns, the bloc also has a number of paid internship programs, typically paying between “€1,000 and €1,250 a month plus health insurance and travel expenses.”
These internships, which fall under the EU’s “Blue Book” program, are very competitive— 25,000 applicants vie for 600 spots.
With the status quo now becoming unpaid internships, it is said that they are “dragging down the number of entry-level positions.”