Manure dumping farmers and far right extremists made Western Europe less liveable last year

Manure dumping farmers and far right extremists made Western Europe less liveable last year

Western Europe, historically the most liveable region in the world, has taken a hit to its reputation this year amid a series of disruptive protests that saw manure dumped on French streets and far-right extremists hit out against immigration.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Livability Index, Western Europe’s “livability” declined by 0.3 points compared with last year, the most significant decline among the areas measured.

The think tank has highlighted a rising instance of protests on the west of the continent as the key culprit behind that decline, with plenty of sources choosing to exercise their democratic rights in the last year. 

Protests rock Europe

French farmers made headlines with a series of protests as rising inflation pushed them to hit back at perceived low wages and excessive bureaucracy from Brussels. 

Farmers created roadblocks for routes into Paris, dumped piles of manure in the Southwest city of Toulouse, and pelted police with eggs and beer bottles to gain concessions from the EU earlier this year.    

Those protests spread across the continent to countries like Germany, Poland, and Spain, disrupting the day-to-day lives of millions of European citizens.

Far-right demonstrations against immigration rocked other parts of Europe historically known for peace and a liberal mindset. In November last year, Dublin faced riots following the stabbing of three children by an alleged foreign national. 

The outbreak caused Elon Musk to step in and make inflammatory remarks about the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

A decline in Western Europe came against a slight increase in overall global livability, partly thanks to significant increases in the Gulf region.

“Global liveability has risen fractionally over the past year, but risks to stability remain. Still-high inflation accompanied by high interest rates and other economic headwinds led to another year of frequent protests across the world,” said Barsali Bhattacharyya, deputy industry director at EIU.

“Dissatisfaction with government policies ranging from agriculture to immigration have accompanied rising polarisation in many countries as a record number of the world’s population vote in national elections.”

The EIU’s rankings consider stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure to determine the best global cities. 

While Western Europe suffered from protests, cities in the region continued to dominate the rankings. Vienna was ranked the EIU’s most liveable city for the third year running, receiving perfect scores on every metric except culture and environment.

European cities occupy each of the top three in this year’s rankings. But as with last year, there is no room for American cities in the top 10.

Tel Aviv took the biggest hit to its ranking after Israel went to war with Hamas following the October 7 attacks. The capital dropped 20 places compared with last year.

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