Poul Nielson (born 11 April 1943) is a Danish politician of the Social Democrats who has held ministerial posts in varios Danish governments and served as European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid from 1999 until 2004.

Poul Nielson
2016-08-29 BSPC Riga Poul Nielson by Olaf Kosinsky-13.jpg
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
In office
16 September 1999 – 21 November 2004
PresidentRomano Prodi
Preceded byJoão de Deus Pinheiro
Succeeded byLouis Michel
Personal details
Born (1943-04-11) 11 April 1943 (age 76)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Political partySocial Democrats
EducationAarhus University

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Copenhagen, Nielson graduated in political science from Aarhus University in 1972.[1]

Political careerEdit

During his long career in Danish politics, Nielson served as Energy Minister in the fourth and fifth cabinets of Prime Minister Anker Jørgensen from 26 October 1979 to 10 September 1982, and as Minister for Development Cooperation in the Cabinet of Poul Nyrup Rasmussen II, III, and IV from 27 September 1994 to 10 July 1999. By the time he left office, he was the EU's longest-serving development minister.[2] In 1999, he was also the EU's official candidate for leading the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the post instead went to Mark Malloch Brown.[3][4]

On 17 September 1999 Nielson became European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid when the Prodi Commission took office.[5] Early in his tenure, the EU signed the Cotonou Agreement with its 71 partners from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) which put relations between Europe and its former colonies on a new footing for the following 20 years.[6]

In 2002, Nielson and Margot Wallström led the European Commission’s team at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.[7] In response to what later became known as the ‘decency gap’ left by US President George W. Bush’s controversial refusal to release funds already approved by Congress, Nielson also led efforts for the EU to pledge additional support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2004.[8]

Life after politicsEdit

In April 2015, Nielson was asked to conduct a strategic review of the labour market on behalf of the Nordic Council.[9][10]


  1. ^ Man with a mission European Voice, April 19, 2000.
  2. ^ Poul Nielson European Voice, September 1, 1999.
  3. ^ Thalif Deen (April 15, 1999), Third World Wants Say in Selecting UNDP Boss Inter Press Service (IPS).
  4. ^ Man with a mission European Voice, April 19, 2000.
  5. ^ Geoff Winestock (July 9, 1999), Prodi to Name New Team For European Commission Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ Man with a mission European Voice, April 19, 2000.
  7. ^ Martin Banks (September 18, 2002), Cox attacks Nielson’s summit ‘antics’ European Voice.
  8. ^ Karen Carstens (April 28, 2004), Abandoned UN population policies to get cash boost European Voice.
  9. ^ "Top politician to review Nordic labour market". Norden.org. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  10. ^ lars. "Former EU Commissioner Poul Nielson: The Nordic region plays a role — Nordic Labour Journal". Nordiclabourjournal.org. Retrieved 31 December 2017.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
New office
Energy Minister
26 October 1979 – 10 September 1982
Succeeded by
Knud Enggaard
Preceded by
Helle Degn
Minister for Development Cooperation
27 September 1994 – 10 July 1999
Succeeded by
Jan Trøjborg
Preceded by
New office
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
17 September 1999 – 22 November 2004
(together with Joe Borg from 1 May 2004)
Succeeded by
Louis Michel
Preceded by
Ritt Bjerregaard
Danish European Commissioner
17 September 1999 – 22 November 2004
Succeeded by
Mariann Fischer Boel