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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 9, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---The European Commissioner who heads the huge development assistance programs of the European Union (EU) is to visit five Pacific Islands countries next month.

Europe's Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, is due to begin his visit to the region October 1 in Apia, the Samoan capital.

He will visit Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea (including Bougainville), and the Federated States of Micronesia, the head of the Delegation of the European Commission for the Pacific, Frans Baan, confirmed.

Mr. Baan, speaking in Suva, said Mr. Nielson will visit EU-funded development projects and launch new ones.

He will also meet with representatives of governments, regional bodies and "non state actors," such as non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

Mr. Nielson, a Dane, has been involved in politics and policymaking since the mid 1960s. He has served as Denmark's Minister of Energy and Minister for Development Cooperation. He was chief executive of LD-Energy Inc. and assistant professor in the Danish School of Public Administration.

Mr. Nielson became a member of the European Commission -- which is the driving force in the EU's institutional system -- in 1999.

His visit to the region follows closely that of Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, another key member of the European Commission. Mr. Lamy, who is French, came for the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) group summit in Nadi, Fiji, in July.

In Suva, Mr. Nielson is expected to have discussions with Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Mr. Qarase is the president of the 78-nation ACP group and chairperson of the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum.

Fourteen Pacific Islands countries are members of the ACP group, which is beginning a new major aid, trade, and development partnership with the EU through the Cotonou Agreement.

Mr. Nielson met with Mr. Qarase in Johannesburg last week during the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Fiji Ministry of Information confirmed.

Mr. Nielson said the EU wants more input from ACP countries on their development needs and priorities, a ministry statement said.

It said new areas Mr. Nielson suggested the EU would like to actively support in the Pacific Islands ACP group include:

Last year, total disbursement of EU programmed aid to the Pacific ACP countries totaled EUR 15.5 million, the annual report of the Delegation of the European Commission for the Pacific said.

This came from EUR 263 million allocated under successive EU-ACP Lomé Conventions, which the Cotonou Agreement succeeds.

Three French territories (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna) and one British territory (Pitcairn Island) also get development assistance under the European Development Fund.

Pacific ACP states are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa,

Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

European Union members are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website:



SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 10, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The European Union has agreed to provide 57 million Australian dollars in aid to Pacific Island nations over the next five years.

The assistance will be channeled through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat based in Suva.

Fiji's prime minister and Forum chairman Laisenia Qarase said the aid donation became available following his talks with the EU's development officer, Poul Nielson, in South Africa last week, during the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Mr. Qarase says he'll be asking Mr. Nielson for more funding for the Pacific when Mr. Neilson visits Fiji next month.

"While in Fiji we will also take the opportunity to discuss with him some of the summit outcomes," said Mr. Qarase. "Areas that might interest the EU for funding.

"It is important that if we are to ensure that the summit outcomes are successful then they must be implemented. To implement them, we need assistance from aid donors such as the European Union."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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