Many voters said they did not understand the treaty's implications well enough, and essentially were voting on whether they felt happy with Ireland's place in Europe. "Ireland would still be the economic basket case of Europe without the EU. We should be doing everything we can to help EU institutions function better, because all the evidence shows they function in our interest," said a pro-treaty voter, accountant Padraig Walsh. But many complained that the EU's expansion brought unwelcome change to Ireland, particularly more than 200,000 jobseekers from Poland and Baltic nations.
As such, a failure of the Treaty of Lisbon might prove useful. It might force elites in the Member States to more carefully listen to their constituents and to try again. A vigorous debate about the character of the EU is called for just now. ""How many times do people have to vote 'No' before Brussels respects the outcome?" he said, noting that Ireland rejected a previous EU treaty in a 2001 referendum, only to be asked to vote again two years later. "Somehow we have to create an EU where 'No' really means no."" Id. It is, as its elites have rightly suggested, at a crucial point in its development. Will it continue to develop sui generis, creating a system of federalism much more dynamic than that which has essentially failed in the United States? Or will it seek to become a larger standard issue federation of the German, American or even Indian style? See Larry Catá Backer, The Extra-National State: American Confederate Federalism and the European Union, 7 Columbia Journal of European Law 173 (2001); Larry Catá Backer, The Euro and the European Demos, 21 Year Book of European Law 13 (2002). It may be time for the great, even revolutionary, changes of the last two decades to be absorbed by the Member States, and natiuralised within the political and social cultures of the people. The European Union might have to embark on a cultural project now before it continues with its institutional consolidation and realignments.