EuropeAid – or DG DEVCO – is responsible for designing EU development policies and delivering aid to reduce poverty in the world, while ensuring sustainable development and promoting democracy, peace and security. In November last year, EuropeAid welcomed new Director General, Fernando Frutuoso de Melo. Earlier this week, capacity4dev.eu took a camera to his office for an informal conversation on the context of European development cooperation in 2014.
Trained as a lawyer in his native Portugal, Fernando Frutuoso de Melo has worked with the European Institutions for the best part of the last 26 years. He has held positions as Director in the Secretariat General responsible for relations with the European Parliament, as Deputy Head of the President’s Cabinet, and most recently as Deputy Director-General in DG Human Resources.
He welcomed us to his office, making time in a busy schedule to share his thoughts with the capacity4dev.eu audience.
“The main priority at least for the first half of the year is definitely the Programming exercise,” he said. “We are coming out of an agreement with Parliament and the Member States and Council on the new legal basis, on the 11th European Development Funds (EDF), so we are now in the programming phase of the different instruments.
“Beside that, we have important on-going debates at the international and multilateral level, namely the post 2015 Agenda, and all the different streams around post 2015.
"In the second half of the year, we will have to cope with the arrival of the new Commission, preparing the Parliamentary hearings, contributing to the political programme of the new Commission.”
Mr Frutuoso de Melo placed development cooperation in the context of the work of the entire European Commission, including other DGs dealing with EU internal policies.
“We often see development aid as something totally outside the rest of what the Commission is doing, what Europe is doing,” he said. “It is not: it is part of an overall effort to develop Europe for the EU citizens but also to help our partner countries and have better cooperation with them.
“And there are many areas where the EU and the Commission and other services and Institutions can contribute to the development of third countries - think about not only traditional services like Agriculture or Fisheries, but also Environment, Climate Change, Energy, Transport, Enterprise Development. There are all kinds of areas of cooperation where we can be useful to them, and they to us.”
When discussing his assessment of the international debate on the post 2015 agenda, Mr Frutuoso de Melo continued to provide an inclusive overview and approach:
“From the European and Western side in general, we say that our objective is poverty reduction, poverty eradication. But very often we don’t realise how negative this is seen to be and understood as, from the other side. What the populations all over the world and what our partners in the developing world want is growth and jobs: they want exactly the same thing that we want in Europe.
“But of course the growth and jobs have to be sustainable, in consideration of the different resources available and how they can be managed.”
Mr Frutuoso de Melo also stressed the importance of reporting the results of development cooperation to European citizens.
“That is important not only for reasons of accountability, but also reasons of public opinion support. So far, development policy is one of the policies that European citizens consider make sense to develop at European level. It is important to recognise it, and it is important that even at times of crisis they continue to think we should do it.
“For that support to work, we have to show that it makes sense and that there are results – results for the beneficiary populations and countries, and also results in Europe in direct consequence of that effort.”