Sometimes, the vision thing is important.
In the first European referendum in 1973, the benefits were clear.
Europe meant access to new markets, and an incredible deal for farmers.
The Single European Act sold itself in the title alone. One Europe, no borders, no customs, free movement for people as well as companies and their investment funds.
Maastrict had an easy selling point too. One currency. The euro meant no more fiddling with exchange rates, and anyone could see the benefits of that simple idea.
By the time we got to the Amsterdam treaty, the clear ideas weren’t quite so clear. I think we voted Yes to that one out of habit, but I wasn’t in the country at the time, so I can’t stay for sure.
The Nice treaty wasn’t clear at all, it took two attempts before Irish voters approved.
And that brings us to Lisbon.
We’ve lost the vision thing.
It’s hard to get excited about making Europe more efficient. Efficient for who? The bureaucrats, apparently. Ho-hum.
At the time of writing, the polls are closed, but the votes aren’t counted.
But by all accounts, it will be a close run thing.
Europe needs a vision.