Strasbourg: 8 April 2020


The President of the European Research Council (ERC), Mauro Ferrari, announced his resignation
on April 7, three months after starting in his new position.
The ERC Scientific Council has made a clear statement on 8 April about the reasons that led to
their unanimous vote of no-confidence in Mauro Ferrari on 27 March. This contrasts with Prof.
Ferrari’s statement published by the Financial Times presenting his decision as having been
triggered by the rejection by the ERC governing body of his proposal to allocate ERC resources for
top-down funding of research related to COVID-19.
We support the Council’s view that it is not for the ERC to engineer a quick response to this crisis. A
move to top-down funding would be fundamentally at odds with the mission and the spirit of the
organization. The ERC already funds projects related to coronaviruses; this recently published list
illustrates the point that basic research is the best long term preparation for new challenges. In all
of the research groups with a competence in virus research, including those funded by the ERC,
researchers are working round the clock on SARS-Cov-2.
We also maintain that the European Commission has used the right tools to swiftly allocate
dedicated funds for COVID-19 research, with some projects having already received specific
funding a month ago and establishing a high-level scientific advisory committee to lead the
research effort.
ISE strongly supports the values and mission of the ERC. More than ever now is its role for
European research relevant to address global challenges. We praise the results achieved so far and
are confident about ERC’s positive and long-lasting impact on Europe.
Professor Martin Andler
President of the Initiative for Science in Europe
About ISE: ISE represents major European Learned Societies and Research Organizations in Europe
operating within different disciplines and across sectors. Active in the policy debate at the European level,
ISE has been instrumental in promoting disruptive excellence-based funding programmes for scientific
research such as the ERC.