So today's the big day, and Ireland is going to the polls to vote on the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum. I'm hoping for a Yes, and I'd encourage Irish voters to vote for a Yes for 4 main, simple reasons:
1. It will strengthen the European Parliament. The Treaty gives the EP a greater say over EU legislation and the EU budget, which gives our vote in the European elections more weight.
2. It will involve national parliaments more in the EU legislative process. It give national parliaments a greater opportunity to scrutinize EU draft legislation and allows a "yellow card" system so they can register disapproval or subsidarity concerns.
3. It forces the Council to vote in the open - increasing transparency and accountability.
4. It gives the Charter of Fundamental Rights the force of law, enshrining human rights and workers' rights so that EU law has to comply with these standards.
In other words, I hope for a Yes result because the Lisbon Treaty, while imperfect, enables the EU to work better, and strengthens democracy, transparency and human rights in the EU.
The result will be revealed on Saturday, since counting doesn't start until then. There is a live blog on Irish Election.