Ahead of the Czech EU Council Presidency that starts in July, many university students, including those under the EU’s Erasmus project, have been drafted in to fill various roles but they are complaining about working conditions as they will be expected to cover their own expenses.
The Czech presidency has opted for a low-cost presidency as decided by the previous government of Andrej Babiš.
Although the new cabinet has slightly increased the budget, the extra money will only cover the costs associated with inflation.
As the state cannot afford to hire experienced diplomats, a lot of work will be done by university students acting as interns.
Students are now complaining to the government about the conditions of the internship.
According to a letter seen by Seznam Zprávy, the interns who were selected “in the first wave” are supposed to have their accommodation and travel funded by the government.
However, those selected later must pay for their own accommodation in Brussels and travel from the €750 per month Erasmus+ budget or personal savings.
“We would appreciate it if the conditions of the traineeship were equal for all trainees and if the costs of the Czech EU Presidency did not have to be covered by the savings of our parents or our personal savings earned during our studies,” trainees added.
Students have stressed that they would have to invest at least €3,000 from their pockets to cover all costs related to their stay in Brussels.
According to them, the aim of the internship is not to earn money, but to gain experience for their future working life.
“We want to use the opportunity to cooperate with Czech experts who currently work in the EU institutions,” Ambassador Edita Hrdá, the head of Czech Permanent Representation in Brussels.