Head of EU’s top science body quits over coronavirus response

Head of EU’s top science body quits over coronavirus response. — AFP pic
Head of EU’s top science body quits over coronavirus response. — AFP pic

BRUSSELS, April 8 — The president of the European Union’s main science organisation has quit the post he took up only in January, the European Commission said, over frustration at the EU response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mauro Ferrari, who became head of the European Research Council for a four-year mandate on January 1, submitted his resignation on Tuesday, which the commission said was effective immediately.

“The commission regrets the resignation of Professor Ferrari at this early stage in his mandate as ERC President,” a spokesman said.

Ferrari made a statement to the Financial Times, which first reported the resignation, saying: “I have been extremely disappointed by the European response” to the pandemic.

He cited institutional resistance and bureaucratic infighting in the EU’s complex structures to his proposal for a big scientific programme to fight the coronavirus.

“I arrived at the ERC a fervent supporter of the EU... The Covid-19 crisis completely changed my views,” the statement said, referring to the scientific term for the new strain of coronavirus.

The ERC was established in 2007 to fund top European scientists with a budget of 1.86 billion euros (RM8.8 billion) in 2018. It awards grants to projects proposed by experts, rather than following political directives, according to its website.

EU governments and the bloc’s institutions stand accused of a haphazard response to the pandemic by failing to react quickly enough or work together. Euro finance ministers failed to agree to a financial rescue package on Wednesday to soften the economic shock of the pandemic. — Reuers

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