The 2017 Administrator Competition – What will the top 5 languages be?

EPSO has recently announced that it is taking a different approach to the 2017 Administrator competition in terms to what languages will be permitted in the second phase of the competition.

  • Each applicant must state minimum 2 languages when applying.
  • The top 5 languages matching the needs of the Institutions will be those used for the second half of the competition i.e. the assessment centre and the E-tray exercise.
  • If none of you stated language is among the 5 most popular languages your application will be DISQUALIFIED.

Most applicants will probably take the natural approach to select the language they know best as their first language. That choice is logical and easy, however great attention needs to be given to what additional language you chose. If you intend to select English, French and German as your “second” languages you are probably in the clear and don’t have that much to worry about. If you on the other hand already have selected one of these and intend to use it in the first phase of the process (EPSO CBT test) or don’t feel you have too good command of these languages and prefer to choose another language you need to be calculative.

Given the fact that your choice of languages can disqualify you from the competition it would be very helpful to know what language would be “safe bets”.

The most decisive factors

So can we predict what these 5 languages will be? There are mainly two factors we need to consider:

  1. The number of speakers of that language as a second language: As already mentioned, most people will complete the first phase of the competition in their mother tongue thus forcing them to pick another language as a second language/language 2. This results in a power shift away from some languages and to some languages. For example; Polish is spoken as a native language by 10,25% of the people aged 15-34 in the EU while Spanish is spoken by 7,79%. However factoring in people that speak these languages as second language as well the numbers look very different; Only 10,58% people speak Polish in total while 14,29% speak Spanish.
  2. The number of applicants from the various countries: The number of applicants is not evenly distributed among the member states. Citizens from some countries tend to apply for EPSO positions to much bigger extent then citizens from other countries. The application data for the two latest Lawyer linguist concourses illustrates this well. We see for example that more Greeks applied to the same number of positions during the latest lawyer linguist concourse then the Spanish, despite that Spain has a population of 47 million and Greece 11 million. Based on this alone we might have a situation where more applicants state Greek as their native language then Spanish. This would mean that Greek would have a better chance to end up among the five languages if it wasn’t for the fact that the second language also is factored in. The number of people that speak Spanish as second language is much greater then Greek which will mean that Spanish most likely will edge Greek out.

The general trend is that the southern European countries heavily dominate among the applicants origin countries. For this reason the most popular second languages in Southern European countries will likely determine the final outcome.

EPSO/AD/333/16 Positions Applicants Appl./position
SPANISH 8 619 77
GREEK 8 770 96
ITALIAN 8 1022 128
MALTESE 9 33 4
SWEDISH 10 52 5
EPSO/AD/325/16 Positions Applicants Appl./position
DANISH 26 160 6
IRISH 62 210 3
CROATIAN 14 563 40
LITHUANIAN 16 312 20
MALTESE 26 142 5

The Final 5 Languages

So what languages will probably end up being the final 5?

It is pretty safe to assume that among these five languages we will again find the previously mandatory languages, English, French and German for the following reasons:

English: The biggest number of native speakers and by huge margin the most popular as second language among the EPSO demographic (EU citizens up to the age of 35), the position of English as the most popular language is hardly threatened.

German: The second most common native language and third most common learned language in EU the position is not likely to be threatened in the foreseeable future.

French: As the third most popular native language and second most popular learned language among the EPSO demographic French is without doubt going to remain among the top two most popular languages. What further contributes to the popularity of French is its strong standing among EU officials, tradition and the fact that it is spoken in Belgium where large proportion of EU officials work and its strong position in the Southern European countries.

These three languages are going to remain popular but two other languages are aiming to join the in the top 5:

Spanish: As the fourth biggest learned language and with high popularity among other Southern European countries, it is hard to imagine it not ending up among the top 5. The fact that EPSO also receives an unproportionate number of applicants from Spain further strengths the Spanish position.

Italian: The fifth biggest second language in EU and among the top three in some Southern European countries Italian is a serious contender for the top 5 spot. As with Spain, Italy also has unproportionate number of applicants compared to the EU average.

It would be quite surprising if these five languages didn’t end up being the top 5 languages. EPSO themselves use these five languages in the example table below further maybe hinting that this is what they are counting on (despite their disclaimer below the table)

The Challengers

Despite this we should mention three potential challengers:

Greek: Despite its small size, the sheer number of applicants from Greece makes Greek a challenger, however the fact that it is not a popular second language will be its downfall.

Portuguese: The case for and against Portuguese is identical as with Greek, huge number of applicants but low prevalence outside of the country.

Polish: What talks for and against Polish is exactly the opposite for the cases of Greek & Portuguese. Polish has almost the double the number of speakers then Greek & Portuguese. However the EPSO competitions are not as popular in Poland as in the other two countries, ultimately quashing any chances of Polish being among the top 5 languages.


So what are takeaways and recommendations we can make?

  1. State the language you are most comfortable as your language
  2. State ALL the languages you feel you could use in the second step of the process.

To get some further clarity into how the competition words let’s look at some fictional examples provided by EPSO.


More information can be found on the main page of the Graduate Administrators 2017:

The Notice of competition can be found on this link

Find more FAQ about the competition on EPSO´s page: