This volume of short analyses of the Lisbon Treaty, published for €20 by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, is obviously timed to coincide with next week's referendum in Ireland. I've already given my views on the Treaty at some length, but I learnt a few things from this book. I had not realised that the Citizens' Initiative proposal, where the EU must respond to a petition signed by a million citizens, had made it into the final text. And I had not appreciated quite how firmly Ireland's neutrality has been ring-fenced both by current arrangements and in the Lisbon proposal.
Other chapters of the book give extra nuance to things I was already aware of. The Treaty's effects on social legislation and climate change seem to me (despite the arguments made in those chapters) more rhetorical than real, though positive nonetheless. The provisions making it easier to change the EU's rules in future are simply common sense (and these probably mean that although this is the fifth European referendum since 1986, it may also be the last for some time). Finally, I had not realised just how much Ireland is a prisoner of the UK's policies in the area of Justice and Home Affairs, though that is a result of geography rather than of any positive policy choice by the Irish government (let alone the EU).
I've argued before that for the average citizen the Lisbon Treaty isn't a big deal. The best reason I've seen for voting against it is from a friend who wants to bring down capitalism, and sees correctly that the Treaty will allow the EU to function more smoothly in making the market economy work; if you are opposed to capitalism in the first place, this is obviously not desirable.
Finally, Irish readers may be interested to see how their referendum debate is being explained to other audiences. Dominik Tierlemann and Christian Heydecker of the Munich-based Bertelsmann Stiftung have produced a nine-page, 580 kb PDF with the title "Green Light from the Emerald Isle? Ten Questions and Answers about Ireland". And Hugo Brady of the London-based Centre for European Reform has written a three-page, 170kb PDF with the snappy title "Will the Irish Guillotine Lisbon?" Both give a slightly external perspective to the debate.