Dr Marcus Cornaro


Marcus Cornaro arrived in South Africa on 5 October 2015 to take over the reigns as Head of Delegation of the European Union’s diplomatic mission to South Africa. Previously, as Deputy Director General for Geographic Coordination in the European Commission’s Directorate for Development Cooperation (DEVCO), a post that he held from 2012, Dr Cornaro oversaw all EU-funded development activities for partner countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Notably he also was in charge of DEVCO’s efforts to address fragility and was responsible for coordinating the directorate’s crisis management, including its response to the recent Ebola crisis. He held the position of the European Commission’s co-chair of the EU-South Africa Joint Cooperation Council.

 Dr Cornaro joined the European Commission in 2000, where he served in the Asia Directorate and from 2001 to 2003 headed the unit in charge of relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. He subsequently was posted as the EU’s (at the time the European Commission’s) ambassador / Head of Delegation to Vietnam from 2003 to 2007. In 2007, he was appointed Director for the European Neighbourhood at the EuropeAid directorate in the European Commission, responsible for EU funding for Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

Dr Cornaro holds an MA in International Development from The American University in Washington, DC (1983) and is a law graduate (Dr. Iuris) of the University of Vienna (1981). Prior to joining the European institutions he acquired extensive experience in the development arena while working in Mali for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and later in Zimbabwe and Uganda for the Austrian Foreign Service. On his return to Europe from Uganda in 1994, he oversaw Austrian Security Policy, and in particular, Austria’s first steps in participating in the European Security Architecture.

 Dr Cornaro is married to Dr Astrid Cornaro, a sociologist of German nationality. They have three children who are currently studying abroad.