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High Quality or Unpaid and Unregulated? Uncovering National Internship Policies in Europe


Internships are often a first step in a young person’s working life. However, depending on where you are in the EU, your chances of being forced to start your professional career in an unpaid and unregulated internship can be worryingly high.

Our new report has put the spotlight on internship legislation in seven European Member States, evaluating the working conditions interns have to face.

Focusing on France, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Austria, Ireland and Germany, our report offers a snapshot of what it’s like to work as an intern in Europe. By presenting a direct comparison of national legislation, it highlights how specific policies can make a big difference in giving interns protection or leaving them exposed to exploitation.

The report identifies that in some national contexts the requirement of a written contract is not enforced, nor the guarantee of quality training opportunities. Instead, free reign is given to the employers, creating a legal grey area where young people are unable to access their rights.

The failures in internship policies investigated in this report also highlights the limitations of the European Quality Framework for Traineeships, the EU’s core recommendation on the rights of interns and trainee workers. The Quality Framework is due to be reviewed this year and we call for it to be updated with a binding requirement for all open labour market interns (where they exist) to be recognised as employees. Young people deserve better!

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