Leader Profile: Koos Richelle, DG for Development Cooperation, EU

The EuropeAid Cooperation Office’s mission is to implement the external aid instruments of the European Commission, which are funded by the European Community budget, and the European Development Fund. Koos Richelle is the Director General of the Office.

EuropeAid Cooperation Office does not deal with pre-accession aid programs such as PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD, humanitarian activities, macro-financial assistance, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) nor the Rapid Reaction Facility. It was founded in 2001 as a department of the Commission. It is divided into geographical Directorates, organized into units handling specific issues. It maintains horizontal networks involving all the units concerned and to group together the management of issue-based programs (such as food aid, NGO co-financing and human rights) in a single Directorate to ensure a consistent and coordinated approach. Koos said, “Every year the EU provides over 7 billion euros in external assistance to more than 150 countries and territories across the world. Much of this work takes place in areas like health, education, food security and rural development, what we call development cooperation.” He further asserted, “Within the EC, the mission of the EuropeAid Cooperation Office, which I direct, is to implement its external aid and cooperation instruments.”

EuropeAid’s work is based on five policy themes, supporting increased aid flows, supporting improved access to Europe’s markets, relieving debt, focus on Africa, and aid effectiveness. Africa is Europe’s largest trading partner, though trade with Europe has recently shown some decline. The EU allocates around 700 million euros a year to the continent through technical assistance projects, which aim to support decentralization and improve local level governance. The Cotonou Agreement recognizes local authorities as an important actor of the EU-ACP co-operation partnership. “The EC fully recognizes the role and the added value of local governments in the fight against poverty and in the improvement of local democracy and governance in developing countries. Local authorities have indeed a key role to play in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” Koos said. Further to that he added, “EC support focuses mainly on resource allocation, capacity building, and relationship between central, regional and local levels. Assistance is
provided for preparation and implementation of local or municipal development plans in close cooperation with community based organizations.”

Koos has served as Director General of EuropeAid – Cooperation Office since 2003. He joined the European Commission in 2001, as Director General of DG Development. Prior to the European Commission, he has extensively worked within the Dutch Ministries of Foreign and Social Affairs. He graduated in Dutch Constitutional and Public Law from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in 1972.

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