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...the EU is the biggest donor of aid for development around the world? The EU gives more in development aid and humanitarian assistance than other rich countries do. The EU also works for trade rules that are fair for poorer countries.

Commission civil service

Working with developing countries

The EU is the world’s largest trader and aid donor, and has a special partnership with 77 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). Jeremy specialises in working with these countries.

Jeremy was born in Colchester, United Kingdom, in 1949. He is Head of the Unit in the Development Directorate-General dealing with the Horn of Africa, with East Africa and with the Indian Ocean.

Jeremy Lester

In his Commission career, Jeremy has always worked with developing countries, the field for which he obtained a Master’s degree from the UK’s University of East Anglia. He first spent three years in Lesotho before joining the Commission in 1976.

Since then, he has been involved in policy-making in Brussels as well as on-the-spot assistance, working in EU delegations in Madagascar, Rwanda and most recently Niger. In January 2007 he was invited back to Brussels to work as head of Unit responsible in DG Development for the Horn of Africa, for East Africa and for the Indian Ocean.

He drove back to Brussels through Algeria, but the return felt nonetheless pretty sudden. The Commission of today is more frenetic than that of the last decade. Now rapid and precise briefings for meetings with the EU Member States, with Heads of State and for international encounters are required almost daily and his Unit works hard to satisfy these demands. Happily the motivation of staff remains high and as a Head of Unit Jeremy has more to support than to cajole. The European Commission is looked to by the countries of the Horn of Africa as a key political interlocutor: we have a heavy responsibility to help advance peace, stability and human rights as well as of course development. This responsibility is what drives his Unit on.

Nostalgic for the heat and dust of Africa? Surely yes, so one day perhaps the road South will call him. In the meanwhile, the return to Brissels is a bit like coming home. The local fishmonger greeted him - after seven years away - with a friendly 'Ah good to see you back, how your daughter has grown!'. It is good to be recognised as a friend and no longer as 'Your Excellency'.

Commission civil service