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European Union External Action

Become an observer

The European Commission has developed a database which accelerates the selection of EU election observers and makes it more transparent, impartial and uniform. It also helps keep traces of observers’ experience and performances.

NB: The election roster is conform with the regulations on information, transparency and the protection of private data. The information registered on the election roster is not public. Access is exclusively restricted to the registered candidate and to a limited number of evaluators.
Full text of the legal notice is available here

The minimum requirements to become an observer are described in the EU guidelines on common criteria for the selection of electoral observers.

Key features are:

  • previous experience of election monitoring and/or other relevant experience or know-how and specific training, national and/or international - good experience of working languages of EU EOMs (either English, French, or Spanish or a combination of those languages)
  • interpersonal skills (e.g. capacity of balanced judgement, ability to work in teams, ability to cope with difficult situations, respect for local attitudes, good communication skills, readiness to work in a multicultural environment)
  • ability to maintain professional independence and strict impartiality in the conduct of duties in the host country
  • demonstrated commitment to democracy and human rights
  • EU member state citizenship.
  • familiarity and experience with electoral laws and procedures (including inter alia electoral rolls, national electoral committees), not limited to a single electoral tradition
  • special knowledge of human rights and democratisation issues
  • basic knowledge of institutional aspects of the EU
  • analytical and drafting skills.

Any applicant evaluated as 'not recommended for future missions' will not be taken into account by the selection committee for 5 years counted from the election date of the mission as stated in the roster for which the person was negatively evaluated.

Candidates should be aware that Member States may apply additional criteria when proposing their nationals for long-term observer (LTO) or short-term observer (STO) positions. Commission services may also add criteria in relation to specific countries. The Commission makes the final selection of LTOs and STOs.

For candidates with Belgian nationality:
Please note that registration with the European Union's roster does not per se result in your selection for an election observation mission. You still have to be nominated by your government through the Belgian Federal Public Service 'Foreign Affairs' Ministry. As a Belgian citizen you have to apply explicitly for a particular mission in order to be nominated for it. Please contact waarnemers.eu@diplobel.fed.be (Dutch) or observateurs.ue@diplobel.fed.be (French) for further information and applications.

For candidates with Dutch nationality:
Please note that registration with the European Union's roster does not per se result in your selection for an election observation mission: You still have to be nominated by your Government, respectively by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the organization responsible for the recruitment of election observers. As a Dutch citizen you have to be member of the Dutch roster, maintained by the Dutch MFA, in order to be nominated for a mission. Please consult the website Internationale Functies for selection criteria and registration procedures.

PLEASE NOTE: The Dutch MFA is currently not recruiting new observers to the roster.

For Estonian candidates:
The Estonian Focal Point welcomes the registration of Estonian citizens with the European Union's roster, especially those with strong French, Spanish and Portuguese language skills. The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Staff Policy Division is the Estonian Focal Point and is responsible for proposing Estonian election observers to the European Commission.

For candidates with French nationality:
Les modalités de dépôt des candidatures et les critères de la pré-sélection sont consultables sur le site du Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international.

For German nationals:
Please note that registration with the European Union's roster does not per se result in your selection for an election observation mission. You still have to be nominated by your government via the Centre for International Peace Operations (ZIF). As a German citizen, you have to be a member of the ZIF personnel pool in order to be nominated for a mission. Please consult the centre's website for selection criteria and registration procedures.

For candidates with Irish nationality:
Please note that registration with the European Union's roster does not per se result in your selection for an election observation mission: You still have to be nominated by your Government, respectively by Irish Aid which is the organisation responsible for the recruitment of election observers. As an Irish citizen you have to be registered with the Irish roster maintained by Irish Aid, in order to be nominated for a mission. Please consult the Irish Aid website. PLEASE NOTE: Irish Aid are not currently recruiting new observers to the roster.

For candidates with Italian nationality:
Please note that registration with the European Union's roster does not per se result in your selection for an election observation mission. You still have to be nominated by your government through the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As an Italian citizen you have to apply explicitly for a particular mission in order to be nominated for it. Please consult the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs for further information and applications.

For candidates with Spanish nationality:
Please note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, responsible for the recruitment of Spanish election observers, requires all Spanish candidates nominated for a mission to have a university degree equivalent to the Spanish five years licenciatura.
Spanish candidates can be asked at any moment to produce their university degree certificates.

For candidates with Swedish nationality:
Please note that registration with the European Union's roster does not per se result in your selection for an election observation mission. You still have to be nominated by your government through the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA). As a Swedish citizen, you have to be registered with the Swedish roster maintained by FBA in order to be nominated for a mission.

Observing elections is part of the bedrock of a functioning democracy, which is in turn a crucial factor in sustainable development. This requires skilled and trained observers.

Training for observers is organised by their home countries (mainly for short-term observers) and by Commission services with the support of EODS (Election Observation and Democratic Support).

EODS bolsters the capacity of the EU and civil society organisations to conduct election observation missions, thereby enhancing the transparency and credibility of observed elections. In addition, EODS conducts seminars for domestic observer groups in Africa, the MEDA region, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

EODS conducts training seminars for EU long-term observers and core team experts for EU election observation missions. Trainees are selected on the basis of their profiles, experience and language skills. It is also necessary to strike a balance between the nationality and gender of the participants.

Since 2000, more than €350 million of EU electoral assistance has funded over 80 projects in 40 countries. This illustrates the need to implement training in electoral assistance. Thus, in April 2006, the Commission and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) signed operational guidelines for the implementation of electoral assistance.

With the support of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), they have since developed a joint training initiative on effective electoral assistance. It aims to introduce Commission and UNDP field staff to the rules and regulations that both the EU and the UN must respect when monitoring elections.

They learn about lessons from past missions, the electoral cycle and new approaches in electoral assistance. The aim is to equip observers with skills for programming, identifying, formulating, implementing and evaluating electoral assistance projects.