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EU science chief quits after 'losing faith in union's system'

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Professor Mauro Ferrari had been in the role since January 1

Professor Mauro Ferrari had been in the role since January 1

Professor Mauro Ferrari had been in the role since January 1

The head of the European Union's top science organisation has resigned in frustration at the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

Professor Mauro Ferrari resigned on Tuesday as president of the European Research Council, a position he held only since January 1.

Prof Ferrari's departure, announced via email, took immediate effect, a spokesman for the EU's executive commission said.

"The commission regrets the resignation of Professor Ferrari at this early stage in his mandate and at these times of unprecedented crisis in which the role of EU research is key," a European Commission spokesman said.

The news was announced by the 'Financial Times', based on a statement released to the paper by Prof 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 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 European Union," he wrote.

"I have lost faith in the system itself."

Prof Ferrari's resignation came in the wake of a March 27 vote in which "the other 19 active members of the scientific council requested the resignation of the president", the commission stated.

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.

There has been criticism of the EU for not acting forcefully to set up a co-ordinated response, even though health issues are still primarily the responsibility of the bloc's 27 individual nations.

Irish Independent