EU science chief quits over over COVID-19 response

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Prof. Mauro Ferrari, the president of the European Research Council, has quit after failing to persuade Brussels to set up a large-scale scientific program to combat coronavirus. — Courtesy photo

BRUSSELS — Prof. Mauro Ferrari, the president of the European Research Council, has quit after failing to persuade Brussels to set up a large-scale scientific program to combat coronavirus.

Ferrari, who is considered to be top scientist in the European Union, announced his resignation in a stinging letter to EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday afternoon blasting EU's scientific governance and political operations.

“I have been extremely disappointed by the European response to Covid-19,” he said in a statement to the Financial Times. “I arrived at the ERC a fervent supporter of the EU (but) the Covid-19 crisis completely changed my views, though the ideals of international collaboration I continue to support with enthusiasm.”

But the research council said later his resignation followed a written, unanimous vote of no confidence.

It said it regretted Prof Ferrari's comments.

"Since his appointment, Professor Ferrari displayed a lack of engagement with the ERC, failing to participate in many important meetings, spending extensive time in the USA and failing to defend the ERC's program and mission when representing the ERC," BBC News reported quoting a statement from the ERC.

The EU's executive insisted it had the most comprehensive measures to combat the virus.

Mauro Ferrari is an Italian-American scientist known as a pioneer in the field of nanomedicine with decades of work in the US. When he took up the role as head of the European Research Council he stressed his commitment to serving society.

The ERC, set up in 2007 to fund Europe’s best scientists, has become one of the world’s most prestigious funding agencies with a budget of around 2 billion euro a year. — Agencies


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