Principal Director European and International Affairs (21201)


Principal Directorate European and International Affairs has overall responsibility for all co‑operation activities at the European Patent Office (EPO). It acts as the EPO's first point of contact for national IP offices worldwide, international IP authorities, such as the EUIPO and WIPO, as well as European and international organisations (IOs), national authorities and patent system users.


The principal directorate's activities contribute to the EPO's key aim of building a European patent system and network with a global impact. Through its co-operation projects and partnerships, the principal directorate works to strengthen the European Patent Network (EPN), contributing to the dissemination of common European standards internationally.


The principal directorate comprises three regional desks: Member States and Neighbouring Countries; IP5, IOs and Global Users; and the Americas, Africa and ASEAN, as well as an External Relations Support Team. Each team is headed by a team lead who reports directly to the principal director to ensure early strategic alignment and effective, timely decision-making. Members of each regional desk work with IP offices and stakeholders from across the designated region, while the structure is designed to facilitate collaboration and the agile deployment of experts for specific co-operation projects or according to business priorities.


We are now looking for a suitably qualified candidate as Principal Director European and International Affairs for these important missions.


With us you will:

  • advise the Vice-President Legal and International Affairs and the executive management team on all matters related to European and international co-operation

  • represent the Office in various European and international fora

  • promote the European patent system as the gold standard, for example, by advocating the use of the Unitary Patent and driving the implementation of co-operation initiatives

  • actively promote the European Patent Network as a forward-thinking co-creation platform for the EPO, its member states, user representatives and relevant stakeholders

  • expand the EPO's geographical outreach by preparing and helping to integrate new member and validation states, as well as developing the Reinforced Partnership scheme

  • foster innovation and the IP-driven agenda, while ensuring that the EPO's policies and partnerships contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • ensure the delivery of high-quality products and services

  • drive the international co-operation agenda by, among other things, strengthening the EPO's IP attaché network and promoting the EPO as a global leader in patent information, IP training and innovation-related education

  • work collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders to support internal and external governance

  • work closely with internal and external stakeholders to foster a thriving network of seconded national experts

  • lead a diverse team composed of highly qualified and experienced European and international affairs specialists, seconded national experts, young professionals and IP attachés

  • collaborate and work as one team with stakeholders to ensure their alignment with the EPO's strategic objectives and operational priorities

  • lead a team of IP professionals in a hybrid working environment by giving them a clear sense of purpose, well-defined roles, responsibilities and objectives, as well as continuous feedback on their performance, while ensuring that they feel empowered, cared for and have access to relevant professional development opportunities


Apply if you have:

  • proven experience in driving and delivering key co-operation initiatives and projects, in a leading managerial position within an international organisation or national IP office

  • in-depth knowledge and understanding of the EPO's strategy, the European Patent Network and the broader innovation ecosystem

  • strong analytical skills and the ability to advise the EPO's executive management on strategic and operational matters related to European and international affairs and to recommend workable, innovative solutions aligned with the EPO's strategy

  • a track record for translating strategic objectives into operational goals and deliverables, as well as delegating and monitoring their implementation based on clear quality and timeliness expectations

  • the proven ability to plan a number of initiatives simultaneously and prioritise effectively, making optimal use of the available resources

  • the ability to draft structured, concise high-quality documents that facilitate informed decision-making, even under significant time pressure and challenging circumstances

  • excellent diplomatic skills and a demonstrable ability to interact effectively at the highest executive levels of international organisations and build and maintain excellent working relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders in a multicultural environment

  • strong communication skills and the proven ability to influence outcomes confidently and diplomatically in the strategic interests of the EPO and its member states

  • a proven understanding and affinity for the UN Sustainability Development Goals and the ability to integrate them effectively into the decision-making process and policy implementation

  • a proven track record of forward-thinking and finding creative digital solutions that result in efficiency gains and benefits for external stakeholders and society

  • hands-on experience of successfully leading, driving and managing change to deliver strategic objectives, while keeping staff fully on board, motivated and engaged

  • experience in developing talent, while balancing individual and team performance to foster a collaborative, one-Office approach

  • the ability to lead with integrity, while modelling and promoting the EPO's values

  • an aptitude for encouraging collaboration and proactive knowledge transfer, while acting as a role-model for the one-Office approach

  • Diploma of completed studies at master's level (preferably in Business Administration, Law or Science) or – in exceptional cases – equivalent professional experience

  • Excellent knowledge of one official language (English, French or German) and ability to understand the other two

  • Citizenship of one of the member states of the European Patent Organisation



The successful candidate will be selected on the basis of qualifications, competencies, professional experience, supplemented as appropriate by interviews, tests and/or a personality questionnaire.


Key information

Job group: 2

Grade: G15/1 (net (basic) monthly salary* for this vacancy: EUR 16 745,36)

Duration of appointment: 5 years

Career path: Managerial 

Location: Office-wide 

Application deadline: 3 February 2023

Interviews planned: week commencing 27 February 2023


* after deduction of EPO-internal tax and before deduction of staff contributions to the social security and pension schemes.





We welcome all applications for vacant positions. We consider each on its professional merits – regardless of your nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, parental responsibilities, age, religion or belief.



Why join us?
✓ Be part of the EPO`s transformation and enable innovation
✓ Work with inspiring people from a variety of cultures
✓ Develop yourself and take on an intellectual challenge

What's in it for you?
✓ A competitive salary
✓ Family-friendly benefits
✓ A good work-life balance
✓ Relocation benefits and various allowances
✓ Contributory medical insurance and pension schemes
✓ 30 days' leave per year

Who we are
We are the patent office for Europe. We are proud to deliver high-quality patents and efficient services that foster innovation, competitiveness and economic growth.

Our vision
We're currently undergoing a change inspired by a common vision: our Strategic Plan 2023. Join us on this exciting journey to a more digital, collaborative and sustainable organisation.

Our work environment
We believe that diversity is fundamental to our success. Our inclusive work environment respects, values and celebrates our individual differences. We want you to be yourself at work.

> How we recruit
> Data privacy policy
> FAQs