SPECIAL REPORT: Right-wing Extremism Trends in Europe

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   

• Latent threat from right-wing extremists has become increasingly more visible in Western Europe in recent years, with attacks in Germany earlier this year underscoring its severity. 

• Moreover, with the far-right historically capitalising on uncertainty and fear, the Covid-19 pandemic is highly likely to be manipulated and add to their radical narrative as previously unorganised groups are likely to seek  to unify their followers and attract new members. 

• These groups could also become more technologically agile and exploit the chaos generated by the pandemic to broaden their pool of targets, with attackers potentially looking to damage critical healthcare infrastructure and hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, as well as potentially targeting food suppliers, and pharmaceutical companies. 

• Businesses operating in technology and money transferring services are likely to also come under greater pressure as right-wing groups will likely rely more on technology to organise and spread xenophobic messages amid lockdown measures. As such, businesses in these sectors could face greater regulatory pressure to adjust their algorithms to detect and report potentially radicalising content sooner. 

• Despite the pandemic having largely placed restrictive measures on large gatherings, physical threat to businesses and individuals nevertheless remains, with Germany likely most at risk of future attacks. The threat is highlighted by an anti-lockdown protest in May, which was infiltrated by members of the far-right, thus indicating intent to use the Covid-19 crisis as a platform to gain visibility and to potentially carry out physical attacks. 

• Latent risk of an uptick in right-wing extremism is also present in other European countries such as Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Poland, as right-wing populist politicians are becoming increasingly more visible, thus creating favourable conditions for right-wing motivated attacks. This threat is also exacerbated by the latent migrant crisis on the Greek border. 

• To that end, emerging trends in right-wing activism amid the current environment suggest that businesses, particularly in technology, financial services, healthcare, and retail could be at a greater risk of uncertainty in terms of hard security concerns and/or increased regulation. 

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