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EU Top Scientist Resigns

(41 Posts)
Namsnanny Wed 08-Apr-20 13:28:28

Prof Ferrarri apparently lost faith in the EU system of organisation over Covid19 and has resigned.

Both sides have issued wildly differing statements on the reasons why.

He basically said he wanted to collate a group scientists etc. dedicated to eradicating Corvid19, to replace the improvised intuitions of political leaders

He is American, and used to getting things done I expect. Not having to go through reams of red tape perhaps?

Urmstongran Wed 08-Apr-20 13:56:07

Fair play to him, he could easily have bowed his head, joined the system, say yes all the time and take the salary and perks. Instead he has principles.

EllanVannin Wed 08-Apr-20 14:00:05

Well done to that man.

Joelsnan Wed 08-Apr-20 14:28:11

Lets hope he is offered a job here in the UK ?

Smileless2012 Wed 08-Apr-20 14:29:07

Good for him

tickingbird Wed 08-Apr-20 14:30:52

Apparently he only joined in January so he became disillusioned pretty quickly.

M0nica Wed 08-Apr-20 14:32:36

This suggests he got sacked for not being up to the job.

He would, of course, want to suggest he jumped and wasn't pushed.

There are two sides to every dispute like this.

He may be the last person we want working in the UK.

Mamie Wed 08-Apr-20 14:35:25

In the interests of balance it seems only fair to include this statement.

"The ERC's Scientific Council notes with regret the statement made by Mauro Ferrari concerning his resignation on 7 April. We here present the facts of the situation.
On Friday 27 March, all 19 active members of the ERC’s Scientific Council individually and unanimously requested that Mauro Ferrari resign from his position as ERC’s President.
This request was made for four reasons:
During his three-month term in office, Professor Ferrari displayed a complete lack of appreciation for the raison-d’être of the ERC to support excellent frontier science, designed and implemented by the best researchers in Europe. Although voicing his support for this in public pronouncements, the proposals he made to the Scientific Council did not reflect this position. He did not understand the context of the ERC within the EU’s Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020.
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 programme and mission when representing the ERC.
In contrast, Professor Ferrari made several personal initiatives within the Commission, without consulting or tapping into the collective knowledge of the Scientific Council, and instead using his position to promote his own ideas.
Lastly, Professor Ferrari was involved in multiple external enterprises, some academic and some commercial, which took a lot of his time and effort and appeared on several occasions to take precedence over his commitment to ERC. The workload associated with these activities proved to be incompatible with the mandate of President of the Scientific Council.
Professor Ferrari subsequently resigned on 7 April 2020. Therefore, his resignation in fact followed a written unanimous vote of no confidence. In contrast, Professor Ferrari has stated that the reason for his resignation is that the Scientific Council did not support his call for the ERC to fund a special initiative focused on the COVID-19 virus. To address this point specifically, we did not support a special initiative because that is not our remit and the Commission's Research and Innovation Directorate General, with which we are connected, was already very active in developing new programmes to support this research through the appropriate channels.
Indeed, many ERC funded researchers have been active for some time in researching the coronavirus family and many other equally dangerous pathogens. Over 50 ongoing or completed ERC projects supported for a total value of about EUR 100 million are contributing to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing insights from several different scientific fields such as: virology, epidemiology, immunology, paths for new diagnostics and treatments, public health, medical devices, artificial intelligence, social behaviour, crisis management.
In addition, as stated on its website in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, the ERC offers ‘grantees the flexibility to adjust their research project”. This is an efficient measure because several ERC grantees already enquired about the possibility of addressing COVID-19 related research in their ongoing ERC project. All this information is publicly available on the ERC website, which also includes testimonies from funded ERC grantees on how bottom-up frontier research is critical to deliver new – and sometimes unexpected – insights relevant for better understanding and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for providing social behaviour and crisis management related solutions.
However, the ERC does not make calls for specific topics, since a guiding principle of ERC is that our researchers are free to pursue the goals they define and to decide on what they wish to work. In our view, this is a crucial way to generate the best science.
The Scientific Council wishes to clarify, in case of any doubt, that they absolutely endorse the view that scientific research will provide the best solutions to tackling pandemics, such as COVID-19.
Therefore, we regret Professor Ferrari's statement, which at best is economical with the truth. This Scientific Council remains dedicated to pursuing the mission for which the ERC was established: the support of bottom-up ground-breaking research.
It is also worth noting that despite the pandemic, the ERC Executive Agency is struggling against the odds to actively process applications for our Consolidator Grants and Starting Grants, which will support researchers throughout Europe to make the discoveries of the future."

quizqueen Wed 08-Apr-20 14:44:10

It sounds from that very long post above that he didn't want to toe the EU line so he was no use to them. The EU doesn't like dissenters and are certainly economical with the truth themselves so are easily able to recognise that trait in others!!!!.

M0nica Wed 08-Apr-20 14:53:54

Quizqueen No organisation, private or public, that appoints a chief executive and then discovers that he/she has no interest in supporting the organisation, working well with senior personnel and is off pursuing their own projects all the time, is going to give them their marching orders.

I have seen it happens and everyone in the organisation heaves a huge sigh of relief when they are gone.

The EU behaved courteously towards him and didn't give any of the details of the true reasons why he left until he made his statement criticising them.

The fact that he felt this need to make the statement he did, when most people in his position would be glad of the opportunity to leave quietly, shows how poor his judgement is. He has shot himself in the foot, now everyone knows what a disaster he was, they are going to think many times before offering him employment in the future.

sodapop Wed 08-Apr-20 15:01:53

I agree MOnica that extensive statement would not have been published without good reason.

growstuff Wed 08-Apr-20 15:46:30

I agree, MOnica. That's quite an extraordinary statement by the ERC's Scientific Council. Usually, when people leave after disagreements, there's some anodyne statement thanking them for their services blah blah and the real reasons only come to light via leaks from third parties.

SirChenjin Wed 08-Apr-20 16:50:30

Agree with M0nica. That’s a fairly robust statement from them - sounds like he’s not left with their professional respect or support.

Callistemon Wed 08-Apr-20 17:37:33

A unanimous vote of no confidence is fairly damning, quizqueen!

V3ra Wed 08-Apr-20 17:42:57

Not a team player then ?

varian Wed 08-Apr-20 18:36:01

This news will no doubt be welcomed by the brexit brigade.

The fact is that scientific advisors are not infallible and it is almost always possible to find contradictory advice.

However that is no excuse for dismissing experts as no better informed than the rtst of us. They are.

POGS Wed 08-Apr-20 19:40:28

"This news will no doubt be welcomed by the brexit brigade."


Chewbacca Wed 08-Apr-20 19:50:28

19 out of 19 members; all giving the same reasons for wanting Ferrari gone, doesn't come across as him "not toeing the EU line", it comes across as though he wasn't doing the job that he was employed to do and so they ousted him.

varian please could you explain how you managed to extrapolate anything about Brexit from that? I struggle to follow your line of reasoning, please could you expand on it? confused

varian Wed 08-Apr-20 20:07:08

There are many who have always been keen to find something to use to attack the EU, just as the Express, DIly Mail etc have done for years.

POGS Wed 08-Apr-20 21:05:33


I ask again ' why' would this story be used to make an attack on the EU by Brexit voters?

Your reply is only establishing your affirmed opinion of what you think of Brexit voters but it does not explain what in this story could lead to an attack on the EU by an entire group of people.

Cunco Wed 08-Apr-20 21:21:54

If we accept the ERC version of events, it wasn't the greatest high level appointment in the world. According to the ERC, he seems to have proved entirely unsuitable for the job and he left after 3 months.

Chewbacca Wed 08-Apr-20 21:53:12

There are many who have always been keen to find something to use to attack the EU, just as the Express, DIly Mail etc have done for years.

I'm sorry varian but this still doesn't connect with how the sacking/resignation of Ferrari has anything to do with Brexit. I know you feel very strongly about Brexit but, on this occassion, the connection seems somewhat oblique.

M0nica Wed 08-Apr-20 22:08:32

Cunco, for any employer to put out a statement as scathing as the one they published, then you can rely on it. No employer would risk doing so if they did not know that they could back up every word in a court of law.

I must say I am left wondering why they ever appointed him in the first place and why he ever accepted it.

Starblaze Wed 08-Apr-20 22:14:28

There are going to be a lot of people in high places looking for scapegoats for mistakes. Nor surprised he jumped ship. Although, I think ours will go with some of us not following the rules as being to blame. Given the reactions I've seen to someone (gasp) hugging their own mum I think the general public will buy it.

growstuff Wed 08-Apr-20 22:27:31

I'm unfamiliar with the reference Starblaze but anybody who thought it was OK to hug his/her own mother presumably thinks that he/she is somehow special and is a fool.

Mistakes have been made and lies have been told.

My money is on Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock both losing their jobs. Both have lost the confidence of the public. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Priti Patel somehow gets "lost" in a reshuffle in a few months.