Mr. Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid, will visit the Pacific from 28 January to 8 February. The visit takes place in the wake of recent positive developments in the region, in particular in Fiji and Solomon Islands where the EU has been able to resume aid without restrictions. Visits to these two countries will offer Commissioner Nielson an occasion to get a first hand appreciation of the changes they have been through and to discuss the way forward for EC co-operation. Commissioner Nielson will also visit Australia and New Zealand where there will be the opportunity to exchange views with the authorities on issues such as peace and security in the region, regional economic integration and sustainable development. Along with the EU, Australia and New Zealand are important partners for the countries in the Pacific.
- During this the first visit of a European Commissioner – to the Solomon Islands (3.-5. February) Commissioner Nielson will meet with Prime Minister Kemakeza, the Governor General, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other members of the cabinet to discuss the country’s general political situation and exchange views on promoting political stability, peace building, governance and rule of law. The Solomon Islands current reform process and recovery initiatives will also be discussed including how EC assistance can further support this. 14.5 Million has been allocated to the Solomon Islands under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF) making the EC one of the country’s most important donors. Commissioner Nielson will also use the occasion to sign a letter of intent confirming the EC’s participation with New Zealand in a 22 Million education programme led by the Solomon Islands authorities.
- During his visit to Fiji (5.-8. February) Commissioner Nielson will meet with Prime Minister Qarase to discuss the current political situation, including the promotion of national reconciliation and the return to rule of law and constitutional conformity. In response to recent progress on these issues the EU decided in November 2003 to resume development aid to Fiji without restrictions. The visit will therefore be an occasion for Commissioner Nielson and Prime minister Qarase to sign the Country Strategy Paper and national indicative programme for Fiji for 2003-2007. 23.1 million have been allocated to Fiji from the 9th European Development Fund (EDF). As part of the political dialogue Commissioner Nielson will also meet leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mr. Chaudry. A meeting with the deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Josefa Maiava will allow a review of progress in regional economic integration, preparations for the negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Pacific ACP states and the EU and EC regional aid. 29 Million in regional aid has been allocated to the Pacific from 9th EDF.