Effects of Corona on science and research: European Commission

Elisa Gerussi, Economic and Policy Analyst at the European Commission


What are the major changes in your job due to the Corona situation?

As most of people in EU institutions, I am working from home. My activity includes both project management and research tasks. I am not facing big issues in dealing with the investigation activity, and actually the fact of staying home and alone all the time can make research more productive. However, the project management side has been getting more critical, especially with external collaborators and project beneficiaries. As for the internal team coordination, we keep having meetings online. Along with the activity that each unit and project team had already, the Joint Research Centre has established a Task Force which has been focusing since the beginning on research lines related to the COVID-19 trend and post-crisis effects. That is what I think is important and due for an European scientific institution. 

How does Covid-19 affect your work with your international partners, students and staff?

An essential part of our project deals with the coordination with regional authorities and stakeholders from different EU countries, and many project activities include peer learning experiences, training, seminars and meetings, which of course have been cancelled or postponed to an undefined date – same as for international scientific conferences or report meetings with EC institutions. The work had to be rethought, accordingly. This is also because regional administrations are facing the burden of COVID-related issues, which do not necessarily and urgently include the topic we work with. 

Everyone is talking about the negative effects of the Covid-19 situation. But, what are the positive effects? Are there any?

If we do not focus on the negative economic, social and psychological effects of all this, that certainly claims deep and urgent analysis and measures, in general, I would say that the lockdown, the incapacity of most of our systems of facing such a shock and the uncertainty of the near future forces us to rethink many patterns that were given for granted.  And I am thinking of our approach to innovation, ecosystems functioning, role of stakeholders, local development. I think more than ever, now could be the right time to see what worked and what did not, why and where, whether local specificities need different paths, and how to connect these paths to the global interconnection in order to make the most of territorial strengths.

How does the future look like? What are your hopes? What are you wishing for?

I hope that these times can lead to greater awareness and sense of collectivity, and that we can, once and for all, learn from present lessons.