The terror threat remains high. Right-wing extremism remains a major driving force, falling on fertile ground in large parts of Europe where the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly triggering frustration. These risks might even increase in the coming winter months, with governments likely to restrict basic rights further in order to contain the pandemic. More demonstrations are therefore to be expected, with the potential for violent clashes to flare up once more and extreme right-wing ideologies on the march. The risks are incalculable.
Uncertainty continues to rise due to the persistently high risk of Islamist terror attacks – as the terrible events in France and Austria have shown. The perpetrators of the violence are targeting European values and human lives. In Paris, a teacher was murdered for using cartoons of Mohammed in his class to illustrate the right to freedom of expression. After French President Emmanuel Macron had publicly declared Islam to be in crisis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on his fellow citizens to boycott French products. Islamic countries followed suit.
These developments show how quickly political risks can escalate, thereby massively endangering the business of exporters and investors. Often, the risks can appear subtle. For instance, governments take arbitrary measures not only after elections have been won. Media-led disputes and far-reaching economic trends, such as sharply falling oil and gas prices or currency collapses, are also reason enough. In such situations, import and export licences are withdrawn, sanctions imposed on states and companies or national borders closed. The fact is, there are even more risks than we can imagine or want to imagine – and this is by no means true for developing countries and emerging markets alone.
Insurers are responding to these security risks by, for example, demanding much more data before deciding on a quotation. This is yet another reason why, notwithstanding the Coronavirus-related restrictions, companies need to clarify their risk exposure. This applies both to property and business disruption risks along the supply chains and to the many political risks. The world has moved closer together, something the COVID-19 pandemic has also shown us. Risk can occur anywhere, at any time. A dialogue about risk is long overdue.