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Marcus Cornaro arrived in South Africa in October 2015 as Head of Delegation of the European Union's diplomatic mission to South Africa. Previously, he was Deputy Director General 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. He held the position of the European Commission's cochair of the EU-South Africa Joint Cooperation Council.
Dr Cornaro joined the European Commission in 2000, where he served in the Asia Directorate, covering in particular EU support to Afghanistan. He subsequently was posted as the EU's Ambassador to Vietnam from 2003 to 2007. In 2007, he was appointed Director for the European Neighbourhood 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 for 10 years in Africa (in Mali for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and later in Zimbabwe and Uganda for the Austrian Foreign Service).
Dr Cornaro is married to Dr Astrid Cornaro, a sociologist of German nationality. They have three children who are currently studying abroad.