Name: Patrizia Eleonora GANCI
Position: Research Policy Officer, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission
How do you assess the political, economic, environmental and social situation of the EU at the moment?
I just came back from a trip to Central America, and honestly, the situation in the EU is on many levels impressive. Not that there are no flaws, however, take as an example high environmental standards in the EU. Aerial pesticide spraying is allowed around the world while in the EU it is prohibited under the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive; having this in the EU’s legal text is one big step ahead.
Obviously, the EU is struggling with scepticism and other issues, which has shown in recent elections in different Member States, but we shouldn’t forget that the EU is a peace project. The level of social rights, civil rights, human rights and the level of peace and economic development we have reached in the EU has no comparison in the world.
Where do you see further need for action in the future?
Two things come instantly to my mind. First is communication; the EU does a great job in so many ways. While working at the European Commission I am always amazed when I learn about all the other fields that are going on beyond agriculture to improve the lives of European citizens. In the past, communication has not been high on the priority list and all these great activities taking place are taken either for granted, or citizens are unaware of all the benefits the EU actually brings.
And second, the current loss of (agro)biodiversity we are facing, not only in Europe but globally. Besides the genetic erosion, local knowledge and culture are integral parts of agrobiodiversity management, and these are being threatened.
What are your professional activities and what skills are important?
Following my studies I initially started at the European Commission as a trainee. The five months turned into almost five years now. However, I didn’t start off with the job I have now. First, I was an assistant in the Evaluation Unit of the Common Agricultural Policy, then moved to the Research and Innovation Unit in 2016, where I am a Research Policy Officer dealing with plant (health) related matters in Horizon 2020 and EIP-AGRI. What skills turned out to be useful? Language skills, being a team player and a positive attitude.
What comes to your mind, when you think about your time at BOKU?
Great memories of excursions, critical thinking during lectures and obviously, all the fun and the inspiring people I met during my studies.
Do you have a favourite failure?
Actually, the very first presentation I had to give for the European Commission was a total failure; right from the beginning it did not go very well and I felt devastated at not being able to reply to questions. Since then I had more events in the following weeks and months standing in the front line. I started preparing for presentations as for exams and took public speaking and vocational trainings. It wasn’t always easy, but looking back, it was useful leaving my comfort zone.