Head of EU’s top science panel quits over COVID-19 response

BRUSSELS (AP) – The head of the European Union’s (EU) top science organisation has resigned in frustration at the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Mauro Ferrari had only become President of the European Research Council on January 1, but EU Commission spokesman Johannes Bahrke said that “Professor Ferrari resigned,” effective immediately.

The sudden resignation of Ferrari and his stinging criticism was bound to add pressure on EU institutions, which have been accused of not working together to battle the global pandemic.

The news was first announced by the Financial Times, based on a statement released to the paper by Ferrari, who said he had “been extremely disappointed by the European response” to the pandemic. He complained about running into institutional and political obstacles as he sought to swiftly set up a scientific programme to combat the virus.

“I have seen enough of both the governance of science, and the political operations at the EU,” he wrote. “I have lost faith in the system itself.”

The European Commission yesterday defended its record in combating the crisis and said 18 research and development projects had already been picked at short notice to fight the coronavirus crisis. It said another 50 European Research Council projects were contributing in the EU-wide effort.

“The EU has the most comprehensive package of measures combating the coronavirus and it is deploying different instruments in order to have the biggest impact for solving the crisis,” the EU’s Executive Commission said.