Since 1985, Giovanni De Santi has been employed at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, where he developed his professional expertise by managing projects and groups of experts in the fields of energy, transport, mechanical/nuclear engineering, environmental science, and management.

In 2007, he was nominated as Director of the Institute for Energy of the JRC based both in Petten (The Netherlands) and Ispra (Italy). The Institute represents the reference centre of the European Commission for research in the energy field. It provides technical and scientific support for the conception, development and monitoring of community policies related to the production, security, safety and sustainability of energy. In particular the Institute focuses on nuclear reactor safety, renewable (solar) energy, hydrogen and fuel cells, energy system modelling and energy security.

In January 2011, the Institute for Energy was transformed into the Institute for Energy and Transport and its portfolio consequently expanded to include sustainable transport. As Director of the Institute, Dr. De Santi is responsible for the coordination and management of key energy and transport activities within the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and in the frame of international co-operation between Europe and key stakeholders - both in the research and industrial sectors - from third countries. He is member of steering committees and governing boards of numerous European initiatives, such as the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Joint Technology Initiatives, European Technology Platforms (solar energy, biofuels, etc.), the U.S.- Europe Energy Council, as well as chairman of international Task Forces UNECE-TF for the standardisation of heavy duty transport emissions.

Giovanni De Santi is author of many peer reviewed publications in high level scientific journals and chairman of many international conferences.