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European Union History Essay Topics

IMPORTANT: this article refers to the previous EPSO exam system before March 2010 and may only be partially relevant for the new one

Based on our users’ request, we have put together 99 essay topic hints for all 9 ongoing and upcoming written exams. Before examining them in detail, bear in mind the following tips:

- It is worth browsing through all topics related to your main one (e.g. if you’re sitting a Law exam, it is worth checking the Public Administration topics too)
- We recommend drafting a detailed essay for each of the topics suggested below for your domain by doing thorough research so you’ll be well prepared
- Make sure to read the 12 secrets of writing a powerful essay before starting to work on any of the suggested essay topics below
- We strongly recommend checking the notice of competition of your exam where the main topics you’ll be excepted to deal with provide useful hints for your preparation

Click on your domain below:

* 7 Assistant Topics
* 15 Public Administration Topics
* 15 Economics Topics
* 15 Law Topics
* 10 Audit Topics
* 10 Microeconomics/Business Admin Topics
* 10 Public Health Topics
* 7 Food Safety (Audit, Evaluation & Inspection) Topics
* 10 Food Safety (Policy and Legislation) Topics
* 7 Extra Topics


1. Describe how your country has been affected by EU membership

2. Further EU enlargement is the best way forward: argue for or against

3. Your superior is going to have a business lunch with the Icelandic ambassador in Brussels and asked you to take care of the administrative arrangements. What do you do?

4. You are in charge of managing the administrative tasks of a tender under the European Cohesion Fund. Which financial, ethical and practical pitfalls would you be exposed to and how would you react?

5. Draft an official invitation letter to the President of the European Parliament regarding his participation at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Make sure you respect the formalities, language and other required elements.

6. Organising a business trip of five senior personnel to a 3rd country requires thorough planning. What are the issues you must consider regarding budget, logistics and planning?

7. Your task is to organise your Directorate General’s Christmas party where all staff is invited with a budget of 3000 EUR. You must coordinate the organisation with several people in other services and find external suppliers as well. What do you do?

Public Administration

1. You are a member of a task force in charge of reforming the common fisheries policy. Briefly describe the path of your team’s legislative initiative within and outside the European Commission!

2. The European Transparency Initiative's effects on interest representatives and stakeholders

3. In your opinion, how will the EU's next financial perspective (2013-2020) be affected by the recent political developments in the EU and the global financial crisis?

4. You are in charge of a public tender to find a professional company that will provide training services for the European Parliament's staff and its Members. What are the financial and tendering procedures and rules you must follow?

5. The effect of the EU's competition policy on other policies (e.g. environment, education, regional policy etc.) - describe cases when the competition policy is overwhelmed by other political priorities

6. If you were a "staff ambassador" whose job is to present the benefits of EU integration to non-professionals (students, citizens etc.), what would you say?

7. Put in international context and describe the EU's efforts to combat climate change on the European and global level!

8. Major challenges faced by the EU's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy; what toolkit can (s)he use to achieve success?

9. Countries of the Western Balkans should become EU Member States: argue for or against!

10. Provide an overview of career prospects in the EU institutions by describing the relevant legislation according to the Staff Regulations of EU officials

11. If you were the European Commission’s President, which three political priorities would you present to the European Parliament for the next five years and why?

12. The so-called Services Directive had been adopted after long political discussions. What does this directive provide and why was it controversial?

13. The EU will review its Lisbon Strategy in Spring 2010. What benchmarks should be used to improve Europe’s competitiveness in the global arena?

14. The role of “impact assessments” in the EU policy making

15. New improved ways of democratic policy making introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon


1. Describe the EU's actions regarding credit rating agencies and banks in its efforts to tackle the financial crisis

2. The European Commission’s plans to enhance financial supervision in Europe based on the De Larosière report

3. The excessive deficit procedure and the Maastricht convergence criteria must be observed under all circumstances: argue for or against

4. You are asked to prepare a speech for the Chairman of the European Parliament’s economic affairs committee on “why any form of protectionism is wrong in the EU”. What should he say?

5. Describe how the Euro's exchange rate affects the EU's global competitiveness

6. What are the EU’s options to introduce trade protection measures against China that are compatible under EU and WTO rules?

7. You are in charge of supervising a large tender’s compliance with the EU financial regulations. What measures will you take if you discover serious anomalies?

8. What are the rules to ensure sound financial management in the field of European regional policy?

9. Provide a brief analysis of the trends regarding the growth and inflation outlook in the EU for 2010

10. Ageing and the long-term sustainability of public finances – what can and cannot the EU do?

11. What actions can the EU take to provide emergency financing for Member States? Provide recent examples and also discuss the role of the IMF in this context!

12. Analyse the economic aspects of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with regard to the role of incentives

13. Current status of financial market integration in the EU and the challenges ahead

14. Economic policy coordination in the EU under the Treaty of Lisbon

15. The EMU and the Euro celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. Discuss why certain Member States from EU15 and those that became EU Members in 2004/2007 have not joined the Eurozone!


1. Current trends in the abuse of dominant position in the telecom sector in view of the European Commission’s and the ECJ’s practice

2. Recent developments regarding the posting of workers directive and the issues related to the single market

3. Fundamental principles of Community law: landmark cases ruled by the ECJ and CFI

4. What are the rules and principles regarding the autonomy of national courts vis-à-vis the ECJ?

5. The ECJ’s ( “Court of Justice of the EU”) powers in the Foreign and Security policy according to the Treaty of Lisbon

6. What tools does an EU Member State have to challenge an infringement procedure initiated by the Commission?

7. Right of access to EU documents under the 1049/2001 directive and in light of the "MyTravel" case

8. Relations between the ECJ and the ECHR in the field of human rights law with examples of case law

9. Rules regarding “entities” within the meaning of the Treaty that may submit a request for preliminary ruling to the ECJ

10. The specificities of the EU Civil Service Tribunal regarding its rules, procedures and competences vis-à-vis the CFI and ECJ

11. Major issues raised and conclusions drawn in the pharmaceutical sector inquiry

12. Exceptions from the rules governing state aid, with special regard to the European Economic Recovery Plan

13. Legal consequences of abolishing the pillar system under the Treaty of Lisbon

14. The definition of ‘legitimate expectation’ and ‘proportionality’ based on the ECJ’s case law

15. The European Arrest Warrant and legal remedies of a suspect to challenge it


1. The application of the “sound financial management” principle within the EU institutions

2. Rules governing the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)’s notification of irregularities and recovery of sums wrongly paid

3. You are requested to carry out a performance audit on the use of Community funds regarding the use of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. What do you do?

4. What issues must you consider when performing an IT security audit of the European Commission’s DG Research?

5. You are asked to carry out an internal audit of the European Parliament’s personnel and administrative policies. Why is this task different from other forms of auditing and which are the principles that you must bear in mind?

6. Main conclusions and findings of the European Court of Auditors’ Special Report on the EU’s Public Health Programme (2003-2007)

7. Briefly outline the background and application of the Statement of Assurance (DAS)

8. EuropeAid requests you to review of its Project Cycle Management Guidelines. Which are the main issues that you must consider?

9. The Logical Framework Approach in evaluating EU funds allocated to EuroMed countries

10. Describe the types of audit performed and issues considered from an audit perspective when evaluating whether the EU ‘regulatory agencies’ had been able to implement the EU’s major administrative and financial reforms aiming at gearing management towards getting results.

Microeconomics/Business Administration

1. You are in charge of producing the financial plan of a newly created EU Agency. What are the factors you must consider?

2. Outline a SWOT analysis on the EU’s plans to launch Galileo, the improved European counterpart of the American GPS system.

3. How would you apply the Project Cycle Management principles in your task was dealing with a reconstruction project funded by the European Commission in Samoa

4. Tools and methods of risk management regarding environmental projects aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in the EU Member States

5. Describe the key principles of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)

6. Provide an overview of the means of awarding, checking and if needed, recovering grants to private entities based on the EU’s Financial Regulation

7. Project management methodologies and approaches (Critical chain, Prince2 etc.): which one can be best applied to an EU context and why?

8. Global competitiveness and the situation of European small businesses

9. The “Think Small First” principle

10. The role of microcredit schemes in European policy making and alleviating poverty within the EU

Public Health

1. Your job is to launch a European campaign to fight youth obesity but the allocated budget is rather limited. What actions and campaign would you envisage?

2. Describe the major international health agencies' and authorities' actions to contain the H1N1 pandemic!

3. Cross-border healthcare and the free movement of patients: current policies and challenges ahead

4. Regarding the EU’s policy on tobacco products and consumption, describe which other policy areas are affected and why

5. The EU's and Member States' role in forming public health policy: provide an overview of the competences

6. Describe the effects and risks of climate change on public health!

7. Neurodegenerative diseases' impact on social security systems in the EU

8. The network for the epidemiological surveillance in the EU

9. What are the public health risks of extreme weather conditions and how can they be best prevented by policy measures?

10. Your director is meeting public authorities from Japan on EU-Japan public health cooperation. Which issues should she discuss and why?

Food Safety (Audit, Evaluation & Inspection)

1. Rules and legislative procedures on pesticides in comitology

2. Describe the EU's powers to carry out on-the-spot checks to ensure a high level of animal welfare (with examples)

3. Genetically modified maize must be authorised: argue for or against

4. Harmful organisms affecting plants: the EU's toolkit to intervene

5. Your job is to carry out audits in EU Member States to ensure food safety. What practical, professional and ethical challenges will you face and how would you address them?

6. What are the ‘novel foods’ and how can the EU address the challenges they pose by administrative measures (risk assessment, audit, inspection)?

7. The precautionary principle in food safety

Food Safety (Policy and Legislation)

1. Regarding imported feed from 3rd countries, what are the measures that the EU takes to ensure high quality and safe products?

2. You are representing the EU in a negotiation with US representatives of the meat industry who complain about the excessively stringent European legislation. How do you react?

3. Prepare a speech for your Commissioner who is going to speak at a WTO expert meeting about the effects of the EU's trade policy on food safety

4. Describe the EU's activities in the WHO regarding food safety measures and their impact

5. The role of risk assessment in the EU's plant health policy

6. Zootechnics are the way forward: argue for or against

7. Describe the status quo and challenges in the regulations on products of animal origin with special view to their impact on the internal market!

8. Describe how the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) operates and provide two specific examples from its history!

9. Pesticide residues are strictly regulated in the EU. Why is this necessary?

10. The role of the European Food Safety Authority in guaranteeing a high level of food safety

7 Extra topics

1. You are in charge of auditing the Commission traineeship office's data protection policy. What are the possible pitfalls you will encounter and how can you ensure compliance?

2. What measures can be taken to ensure proper data handling by the European Parliament's personnel and administration service?

3. In the field of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, what are the competencies of Member States and EU institutions in the context of data handling?

4. You are in charge of creating a data handling policy pursuant to Directive 45/2001 regarding IT security at the Commission's delegation in Canada. What are the special rules you must respect in this context?

5. Discuss the issues at stake regarding wide-spread use of RFIDs in Europe, based on the EU's data protection principles

6. OLAF and national authorities asked you to advise them in a case regarding fraudulent use of EU funds in a Member State. What are the issues and rules you must consider and why?

7. A company asked for a European design registration from the EU's OHIM agency in Alicante, Spain, but later finds out that the design was leaked and appeared on the internet. How can they ask for remedy and how could have this been prevented from a legal and IT perspective?

As you certainly assumed, these essay topics are only suggestions to give you a better idea on how to focus your preparation, the actual questions at the exam may of course differ (though probably not much). On the other hand, in most cases you will be given 3-5 topics to choose from based on your personal preference, which makes this phase much easier than other parts of the exam. Also, one or two topics may actually be a ‘case file’ where background information such as a directive, a briefing or other outline is given to you and you must analyse and structure that information based on the instructions – yet the above topics should also help you prepare for these exercises as well…good luck!


Here are a few extra example essay / memo topics for the Building Project Management domain:

"Due to the creation of the European External Action Service, you are in charge of relocating DG TRADE staff from the Charlemagne building in Brussels to a new location. What are the priorities and pitfalls you must consider when planning the move?"

"When announcing a public procurement for the supply of 2000 new office computers and basic software, which issues must you bear in mind?"

"What are the basic rules and principles that must be respected regarding the physical safety of EU institutions?"

"You were asked by your Head of Unit to draft the policy for the eligibility to the new EU school: which staff and based on which indicators can sign their children in, with due regard to the Staff Regulations?"

"Your unit is in close contact with the Luxembourg authorities to identify a venue for a new Court of Auditors building. Which factors should you consider and why?"

Cornell University Library manages deep and extensive collections of European Union (formerly European Communities and European Community) official documents and publications which extend from the 1950s to the present. Cornell University Library has been a depository library for documents and publications of the European Union since 1997.

In addition, the Library's collections include scholarly books and journals, news and media sources, and archival materials on microfiche. These collections support research on Western Europe European integration, and European institutions, regions, themes and topics.

Most current EU documents and publications are freely accessible online;  older materials can be found at Cornell in print, or through Cornell-licensed databases, or microfiche.

Print materials on Western Europe, European integration, European institutions and specific and comparative topics are located in the appropriate subject library.  They can be located using the online catalog. For example, most print materials on agricultural policy will be found at Mann Library, and most material on vocational development, labor relations, and related topics will be found at the Industrial and Labor Relations Library. The Cornell Law Library maintains separate collections of EU documents and publications appropriate to its areas of responsibility. Lower-use materials may be at the Library Annex, from which they may be requested by visitors as well as by Cornell cardholders.

For comprehensive records of the Library's print and licensed electronic resources relating to the EU, try guided keyword searches in the Cornell library Classic Catalog using European language terms.

Don't hesitate to ask for help finding what you need.

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