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Europe’s richest countries face a growing risk of civil unrest this winter, including street protests and demonstrations, due to high energy prices and rising living costs, an expert risk consultancy said.
Both Germany and Norway are among the advanced economies experiencing disruptions to daily life due to industrial action, a trend already seen in the UK, Verisk Maplecroft principal analyst Thorbjorn Soltvedt told Reuters.
Verisk’s latest Civil Unrest Index report found that more than 50% of the nearly 200 countries covered experienced an increase in the risk of mass protests between the second and third quarters of 2022, the largest number of countries since the firm published its index in 2016.
The list of countries with the greatest predicted increase in the risk of social unrest includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland and the Netherlands, according to the report published today.
“In the winter, it will not be a surprise if some of the developed countries in Europe start to see more serious forms of civil unrest,” Soltvedt said.
Russia’s war in Ukraine since February 24 has accelerated the rise in food prices, which hit record highs in February and again in March. Energy prices also rose sharply, with Europe at the center of the effects. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”.
“Let’s not forget that there are still some of the effects of the COVID pandemic playing into this with the disruptions still existing in supply chains,” added principal analyst Jimena Blanco.
Devastating droughts and low water levels linked to climate change in many parts of the world have further exacerbated the situation with high food and energy prices.
According to the report, the increase in the prices of basic food products, provoking everything from peaceful movements to violent protests, also explains the rise in social discontent that has gripped both developed and emerging markets.
The largest increase in social unrest in the third quarter compared to the second quarter of the year was recorded by Mauritius, Cyprus and Ukraine, with Russia in seventh place and Norway in thirteenth place on the list.