Making policies work

Vacancy: Research Assistant for the European External Affairs Programme


ECDPM is a leading independent think tank that wants to make policies in Europe and Africa work for inclusive and sustainable development.

We believe good policies are extremely powerful. They can tackle society’s biggest problems at the root, lay a foundation for change, and play a crucial part in making the global development agenda a reality for all. That is why we want to help institutions and governments across Europe and Africa create policies that work.

Our independent policy experts contribute sharp analysis, thorough research and fresh ideas. But making policies work requires stepping off the sidelines too. It means working closely with the people who create, implement or are impacted by policies. We bring different groups around the table, smooth the way for debate and make sure everyone’s voice is heard. We provide advice and training and design practical solutions together.

We have over thirty years of experience in development policy and international cooperation and know the African and European institutions inside out. Our focus is on EU foreign policy and European and African policies related to conflict, migration, governance, food security, regional integration, business, finance and trade.

About the European External Affairs programme

As a Research Assistant your expertise will allow you to assist in the research and execution of activities of the centre’s European External Affairs Programme.

The EU is dealing with a number of challenges close to home, while at the same time seeking to play a more significant role in solving global development problems. We want to assist the EU institutions and member states in working towards coherent and effective foreign and development policy, while not shying away from critical reflection and analysis that helps hold them to account.

Taking account of the above topics, ECDPM seeks to appoint a full-time staff member as Research Assistant to the European External Affairs Programme to further develop and implement its work in this area. The initial contract will be for seven months, with a possible extension to fourteen months on the basis of performance. The staff member will be based in Maastricht, a small city in the South of the Netherlands, which is 90 minutes away from Brussels.

Terms of reference

The Research Assistant will support the European External Affairs Programme. To do so, she/he will:

Research and analysis

  • Support the programmes by undertaking targeted pieces of desk research (both qualitative and quantitative) on European External Affairs and delivering pieces of timely high quality written work to other team members.
  • Under clear guidance and supervision, conduct quantitative research, including data analysis, identification of key messages and creation of visuals able to communicate to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Support the production of written policy-relevant material related to European External Affairs by proof-reading, undertaking research and conceptualisation of visual communication.
  • In certain circumstances and with clear supervision, writing sections or co-authoring blogs, briefing notes and discussion papers. For excellent writers some possibility to single author short articles/blogs exists under close supervision.
  • Maintain an up to date and well organised overview of policy debates in the area of European External Affairs in particular those related to the negotiations on the EU’s budget (Multi-Annual Financial Framework) and the programming for EU international cooperation and development assistance.

Brokering and outreach

  • Attend conferences, seminars and events focusing on European External Affairs and report back on these in writing in a timely and clear manner.
  • Under the supervision of programme staff, conduct outreach to African and European stakeholders and research relevant individuals and institutions to ensure that they are informed of ECDPM’s work and outputs.
  • Provide written synthesis of policy and other documents and reports of interest to the programmes.
  • Support the conceptualisation and organisation of strategic events or dialogue activities.

Support to team and the Centre

  • Attend ECDPM internal meetings as a part of the team and make inputs to these as appropriate.
  • Support the development of operational guidance or training on European External Affairs topics undertaken by the team.
  • Provide support to the production of tenders or the development of funding proposals in the relevant areas.
  • Provide research assistance to cross-programmatic or Centre wide initiatives.
  • Opportunities to take part in internal task forces on specific topics are available.

The Research Assistant is a full team member of the programme. Taking into account specific personal qualities and experience, and in accordance with the needs of the ECDPM’s other programmes, other activities may be assigned to her or his portfolio as well.

Professional and personal requirements

We are looking for a creative individual to manage various key tasks and activities, which require a variety of skills. To this end, the candidate should have:

Academic background
(1) Bachelor’s and completed Master’s degree in a relevant social scientific discipline. X
Professional background
(2) At least 12 months work experience in a professional setting covering issues broadly related to ECDPM’s mandate. X
(3) Good knowledge of the EU’s International Relations and Development Policy and a familiarity with the EU institutional arrangements. X
(4) Good knowledge of the global international development landscape, including the 2030 Agenda. X
(5) Good quantitative analysis skills are a definite advantage, including familiarity with major international datasets, descriptive data analysis and ability to draw key messages and visuals based on quantitative evidence; if from a qualitative background, a proven interest in developing those skills is essential to the post. X
Core competencies
(6) Good organisational skills, excellent abilities and a high degree of comfort in providing research support to multiple projects and people simultaneously in a fast-paced environment. X
(7) Excellent, writing, editing, analytical and synthesis skills, including the ability to structure arguments in a clear and policy-relevant manner. X
(8) Excellent interpersonal and communication skills in a multicultural environment (including flair and enthusiasm) and willingness and interest to work as part of a team. X
(9) Excellent attention to detail and a strong commitment to excellence. X
(10) Effective verbal communication skills, including the ability to present material clearly and timely communicate to colleagues about relevant policy developments. X
(11) Some experience of organising events or meetings with civil society, businesses and official bodies, including internationally. X
(12) Good understanding of gender and how gender mainstreaming can be brought to policy-oriented research. X
(13) A familiarity with utilising social media in a professional context and with creatively using communication tools such as Powerpoint. X
Other skills and experiences
(14) Fluency in English and good professional knowledge of French required. X
(15) Other European or African languages. X
(16) Experience of volunteering or working in a developing country, in particular in Africa. X


ECDPM offers a lively and attractive working environment, space for autonomy and personal growth, and ample opportunity for participating in an exciting emerging area of policy development for international cooperation. ECDPM currently has a lively cadre of young professionals drawn from across Europe and Africa. This post is based in the Maastricht office of ECDPM.

Since the Research Assistant position is regarded as an extended traineeship aimed at providing initial working experience in the international arena for development policy, the initial appointment is for seven months (usually extended to fourteen months), with a salary of €1,775.15 gross/month. The appointment provides a generous package of compensation leave (nine+ weeks on annual full-time basis) and other benefits such as pension scheme and training budget.


Applicants should fill in the application form that can be found on, under vacancies. Applications should be submitted electronically to the email address, to the attention of Mr. Guy Janssen, Corporate Assistant Human Resources, as soon as possible (deadline for application 21:00 Sunday 5 August 2018). Please enter: “Application for RA: EEA Team” in the subject line. Applications without an application form (i.e. just a CV) will not be considered.

Within one week after the application deadline the outcome of the pre-selection process will be communicated to all applicants with interviews to be held on 16 August in Maastricht. For short-listed candidates invited for an interview, additional assessments (including related to qualitative and quantitative analysis) directly relevant to this job description would be part of the recruitment process. The anticipated start date is Monday 3 September 2018.

More information on ECDPM and/or its European External Affairs programme can be found at

Sign up to our news updates

Do you want to receive our weekly newsletter and/or our other updates? Sign up here.