Over at VoxEU.org, a new website promising to provide "[r]esearch-based policy analysis and commentary from Europe's leading economists", Richard Baldwin has a rather informative four part series of articles on all things EU constitution, "EU constitution and its replacement: an economist's perspective". (Perspective aside, the articles don't dwell on economics.)
The first part summarizes what is in the proposed Constitutional Treaty and the second part deals with what changes it contains. They summarize the basics in a understandable manner. The third part, which recaps the way in which it was put together, is my favorite. It offers good insights on the Nice treaty, the Convention on the Future of Europe, and history of EU institutional reform in general.
It is easy to get misty-eyed about European ideals, but the harsh truth in my view is that the Constitution was just another big-package political compromise of the sort that has been put together at every step in Europe’s long history of integration. Eastern enlargement required the EU to reform itself. Europe has known - since the Westendorf Report - what it had to do. It failed to do that in the Amsterdam, Nice and Constitutional Treaties. Europe would be well served by the realisation that the Constitution was not a heroic step towards the sacred goal of European integration. It was a smoke-screen for undoing the Nice Treaty’s damage without admitting EU leaders had erred. Unfortunately, they misjudged EU citizens; instead of fixing up Nice’s screw-up, the Constitution created a brand-new screw-up that the German Presidency is trying to fix up.The fourth part discusses how the EU should proceed from here. It gives some perspective on Finland's position.