During the next few days, both France and the Netherlands will vote on the EU constitution. A “No” vote in both countries is likely, which Europhiles would see as a disaster. However, I think that a rejection of this constitution would actually be a blessing, and this week’s Economist confirms me in this opinion.

First, let me clarify: I love the idea of a European Constitution. I think it’s the next logical step in taking the EU to the next level. But what should a constitution deliver?

First, there is form. It should be concise, and it shouldn’t be law. It should be a document that enables law-making. This constitution (the annotaded version linked above is over 400 pages!) has many articles that, in my opinion, just don’t fit that criteria – it goes into far too much detail. These details should be laws, interpreted and checked against the constitution.

Second, it should be consistent. Reading the constituion, it feels that the writers had to bend over backwards so many times to address many contradicting concerns. It is not only difficult (if not impossible) to please everybody, doing this will create legal headaches for decades to come. I am sure lawyers specializing in EU law will be the only ones delighted.

But third, and most importantly, it should put the EU on a sustainable, visionary course. And this is where the constitution fails the most. As the Economist puts it:

What is needed instead is a treaty that acknowledges the central popular concern: that an EU that is increasingly remote is also a threat to the diversity of Europe’s nations and thus to national identity. (…) The central thrust of the document is towards more centralisation.

I wish for the constitution to fail, and the lawmakers to get back to the table to draft a new constitution from scratch. Maybe they should read the German or American constitutions for inspiration.