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The wrong horse

The ERC must explain how it chose a leader who left after three months

The timing could hardly have been worse. When Mauro Ferrari resigned as president of the European Research Council on 7 April after just three months in the role, he generated a wave of negative publicity. The EU, already struggling to look unified under the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic and its failure to find a quick economic response, came under heavy fire. Estonia’s former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves told his 100,000 Twitter followers that Ferrari’s exit was “an EU failure of epic and catastrophic proportions”.

Ferrari said he quit because the ERC’s governing Scientific Council rejected his suggestion that the funder should provide dedicated financing for Covid-19, deviating from its bottom-up mandate. He also criticised existing top-down coronavirus funding from the EU as “largely uncoordinated”.

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