“We welcome the joint approach of Commissioner Gabriel and EU Ministers of Research to agree on Gabriel’s 10-point action plan to fight the current COVID-19 outbreak. This is not only referring to recent joint efforts in collecting data, using and investing in an European Science Cloud and to set up a joint framework for clinical trials, it’s also looking ahead to fight future pandemics.’’- says MEP Ehler, EPP-ITRE-Coordinator and Rapporteur for Horizon Europe,

“Commissioner Gabriel is also doing a good job to make sure all bodies involved in the implementation of Horizon 2020 are contributing to these efforts. Sadly, we acknowledged that the newly appointed ERC President has resigned following his allegations that the ERC was not doing enough to address the crisis. The Parliament, as initiator of the ERC and protector of the independency of one of the crown jewels of European research, had to learn that during the first months of his mandate, he would spend more time in the US than in Brussels. This had been broadly seen as a contradiction to the job description of the head of one of our most prestigious research institutions, brilliantly led by his two predecessors in a collegial manner.’’

“The ERC is rewarding excellent scientists from all around the world. Several of these grantees are actually working in fields which can be applied to the current situation and could help to understand and contain the outbreak, such as virology and epidemiology. As announced recently, ERC grantees are also working on AI solutions for disease detection.”

“Mr Ferrari’s recent proposal to deviate from the ERC’s researcher-driven approach was seen more as a window-dressing public relations stand on the coronavirus crisis and it was a contradiction to the legal basis of the ERC, which can and does in many ways contribute to the fight against COVID 19.”

“Starting with high expectations but never really acquainting with the independent nature of the ERC, we are sorry that things have turned out this way for a brilliant researcher and entrepreneur like Mr Ferrari. However, this should not serve as argument to accuse the ERC or the EU of not doing enough.’’

“Today’s firm and unanimous backing of the Commission’s 10-point action plan to improve cooperation and joint financial efforts against the crisis shows Europe going in the right direction.”- concludes Ehler.