Risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft’s latest Civil Unrest Index (CUI) has flagged France as having the highest risk to potentially disrupt business compared to other western economies – putting it on par with emerging markets such as Brazil and South Africa.

France ranked 16th most at risk country among 198 that were reviewed. The only other western European country to feature in the worst performers was Greece, at 25th place.

“As companies assess the viability of relocating European headquarters from the UK following the Brexit referendum, the findings provide a useful insight into some of the structural problems facing business in France,” says Maplecroft.

“While France has an active civil society and trade unions, these tend to encourage demonstrations. In contrast, Germany has a more consensual political culture that supports close co-operation between trade unions, industry and government, so protest is less likely to be an option of first resort in labour disputes.”

Germany ranked joint 140th with the UK and the two countries are categorised as ‘low risk’.

According to the consultancy, so far in 2016, France has experienced significant protests on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, in Germany and the UK, unrest that markedly disrupts business occurs on average every six months.

This year, France has been marred by protests against attempts to reform the country’s labour laws. The country came to a standstill this spring as union members blocked petrol refineries and depots, and train conductors and airline pilots joined nationwide strikes.

The reforms aim to give companies greater flexibility in hiring, firing, pay and working hours, according to economic conditions, compared to the collective-bargaining procedures that are currently in place.

French prime minister Manuel Valls hopes the reforms will bring France’s labour model closer to those of Germany and the UK and help lower France’s high unemployment rate. However, trade unions see them as an attempt to undermine union power and sector-based deals.

The Verisk Maplecroft ranking measures triggers for unrest, the frequency and severity of mass demonstrations and protests, the effects on business and the mechanisms in place to avert any disruption.