By Damon Mitchell • 08 April 2020 • 14:21
Mauro Ferrari, director of the EU scientific committee, has resigned due to the lack of coordination in response to the coronavirus and says he has “lost faith in the system.
“I am extremely disappointed with the European response to Covid-19,” announced Ferrari, director of the European Research Council (ERC), upon submitting his resignation. “I came to the ERC as a fervent defender of the European Union, the Covid-19 crisis has completely changed my point of view,” he said.
Ferrari ran until Tuesday afternoon the ERC, an organisation founded in 2007 with an annual research budget of €2,000 million. However, in March, clashes began with the European Commission and with the Scientific Council that controls the institution.
The Italian-American, who has spent much of his career in the United States, has criticised the “total lack of coordination of health policies among member states, recurring opposition to cohesive funding support initiatives, and unilateral border closures” within the EU.
The former ERC director had asked to launch a programme with extra funding to coordinate a European investigation. “I believed that at a time like this, the best scientists in the world should have the resources and opportunities to fight the pandemic, new diagnostic tools, new dynamic science-based approaches to behaviour that replace the often improvised intuitions of political leaders,” he said in an official statement.
But Ferrari’s proposals were rejected by the Scientific Council, which damaged his presidency. The nanomedicine expert then worked directly with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, who provided guidelines for his work and who personally asked him for advice. But the professor points out that the plan disintegrated when it fell into the internal machinery of the European Commission.
Ferrari pointed out in his statement that he arrived at the ERC with enthusiasm “for the great reputation of this world-leading funding agency” and for its “commitment to the idealistic dream of a united Europe. Those idealistic motivations were crushed by a very different reality during the brief three months since I took office,” says the researcher.
Ferrari, who admits to having “met many excellent and committed people” in the ERC and the Commission but points out that he simply has “lost faith in the system.”
The researcher concluded by saying “Now is the time for me to return to the border, to the front line of the fight against Covid-19, with real resources and responsibilities.”
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