The Maastricht Diplomat

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  • Cam Nghiem

Still have to address climate change

[Squid Game] On 18 October 2021, Netflix in the Netherlands organized the Red Light, Green Light game from the internationally famous Korean series Squid Game. These events proved Squid Game to be one of the most popular cultural exports of South Korea, along with K-pop and the Oscars-winning movie Parasite. The theme of Squid Game is the class disparity in South Korea which rendered immense inequality that forced the poor to pursue fatal prizes instead of preserving their biological lives.


[EU v. Poland] This class disparity is a disease that has broken out in the liberal order for almost a decade. Developed countries with their insensitivity to such economic inequality suffer from its symptoms — populism. It is this populism that brings the Law and Justice (PiS) party to power in Poland, which corrupted the Polish Constitutional Court. This corrupted Polish Constitutional Court ruled for a decision that Polish law shall take precedence over European Union law with regards to some matters. Such a decision goes against the supremacy principle of EU law and potentially subverts the European Union legal order. On 19 October 2021, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presents in her speech to the European Parliament three options that the European Commission might take in the future: (1) the Commission legally challenge the judgement of the Polish Constitutional Court; (2) the Commission withhold funding to the Polish government via conditionality mechanism; and (3) the enactment of Article 7 of the EU Treaty which suspends the rights of an EU Member State. However, option (3) is hardly possible because of a procedural rule making such enactment impossible against the Budapest-Warsaw allyship.


[Merkel Leaves] On 22 October 2021, Ms. Merkel participated in her possibly last EU Summit as her colleagues, including EU leaders, the European Council President Charles Michels and former United States President Barack Obama, paid tribute to her. Ms. Merkel shall still be around but merely as a caretaker until a government can be formed in the German Parliament Bundestag. In her speech, she acknowledged that her successors shall have to address monumental problems regarding the Polish rule of law and immigration.


[Texas Abortion Law] The other side of the Atlantic observes the gradual leaving of another element — Texan women’s right to abortion. On 22 October 2021, the constitutional question of the highly restrictive abortion law in Texas showed up in front of the US Supreme Court again. In the first time, the Supreme Court passed an unsigned judgement of not blocking the Texian law without receiving briefs or listening to oral arguments. This time, the Supreme Court again did not block the law but agreed to consider briefs and oral arguments in November. The manner in which the Court handles this constitutional question is a proof for the politicisation of the court, and in addition, the Trump-induced conservative shift of the Court which mainly prefers Scalian textualism as a method of constitutional interpretation. One can easily understand that without such a conservative shift, the case can be more simply resolved with a reference to Roe v. Wade — a US case law allowing aborition up until 24 weeks.


[Facebook Whistleblower] Also in the US, another Facebook whistleblower showed up on 22 October 2021 and joined the rank of Frances Haugen and other Facebook employees who provided testimony to the US Congress. The general theme of these whistleblowers is that Facebook prioritised profit over combating hate speech, misinformation, and other public threats. These whistleblowers have intensified bipartisan urge to reign in Facebook and Big Tech in general.


[COP26] In addition to the aforementioned domestic and regional issues, members of the international community still have to address climate change. Between 31 October and 12 November 2021, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP26) shall be held in Glasgow, Scotland under the co-presidency of the United Kingdom and Italy. The goals of COP26 are fourfold: (1) global net-zero by mid-century; (2) protection of communities and natural habitats; (3) finance mobilisation; and (4) collaboration. However, with President Xi Jinping of China not participating in person (see Reuters), the result of this conference cannot be too promising considering China is the biggest greenhouse emitter in the world.

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