Barroso protégé to oversee EU development policy

Fernando Frutuoso de Melo (left), the new director-general for the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation-EuropeAid and European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso (right) at a European Parliament plenary. Photo by: Cornelia Smet / EU

A trusted colleague of European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso and fellow Portuguese national has been picked to oversee the EU’s development policy and development aid department, the Commission revealed on Wednesday.

Fernando Frutuoso de Melo is set to become the new director-general for the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation-EuropeAid — commonly referred to by staff as DG Devco. Frutuoso de Melo, 57, will succeed Fokion Fotiadis, a Greek national, who is set to retire at the end of October after his replacement was approved by the bloc’s college of commissioners on July 24.

According to his official profile, Frutuoso de Melo joined the Commission after working in both public and the private sectors in his native Portugal, where he met Barroso, at the time government undersecretary of state for home affairs.

One senior Commission source close to the future director-general told Devex on Wednesday that Frutuoso de Melo was a “dedicated, resourceful and solutions-oriented colleague.”

With over 37 years of experience, the future director-general at Devco started out his Commission career in 1987 in the same department, spending almost 10 years in various functions, including a stint as an assistant to the then director-general and later becoming a head of sector, a head of unit and an advisor.

He later transferred to the department for personnel and administration, before taking a 4-year period of special leave to work as an independent lawyer in Lisbon.

Returning to the Commission, he briefly headed a unit within the department for fisheries before being appointed deputy head of the private office — or cabinet — of EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, then responsible for enterprise policy and information society.

When Rehn’s portfolio switched to EU enlargement in 2004, Frutuoso de Melo followed in the same role, then two years later he was tasked with handling Commission relations with the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and national parliaments.

Frutuoso de Melo and Barroso crossed paths again in November 2009, when the latter appointed the former deputy head of his cabinet as Commission President.

The promotion of Frutuoso de Melo to the most senior position within Devco sees his Commission career come full circle, just over a year after he joined the department for human resources and security as deputy director-general.

There, he was credited with leading the revision of staff regulations and managing relations and the delegation of programs to the recently inaugurated European External Action Service, or EEAS.

The Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation-EuropeAid is in charge of formulating the EU’s development policy and contributing to sectoral policies in foreign aid, poverty reduction, and the promotion of peace and democracy. The directorate and its director-general report to EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

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  • Richard jones profile

    Richard Jones

    In his role as Partnerships Editor Richard oversees editorial content for partner and client campaigns, leading a talented team of writers and editors, conducting high-level video interviews and moderating panels at events. Previously an associate editor, he covered the full spectrum of development aid in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Devex. Currently based in Barcelona, Richard brings to bear 14 years of experience as an editor in institutional communications, public affairs and international development. His development experience includes stints in the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Ecuador, as well as extensive work travel in Africa and Asia.