On a ridiculously short visit to Dublin for a meeting at the Institute of international and European affairs it's clear to even the casual observer that politics are afoot. The lamp-posts all around the city are hung with colourful posters. In the only one of the EU's 27 countries to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, the campaign is in full swing.
Among the "yes" and "no" posters one reads "People died for your freedom - don't throw it all away". My mind on other matters, this rather rolled over me at first. As a Brit, I am very familiar with the argument of some Eurosceptics that further European integration is an insult to those who died in the two world wars.
But of course the poster put out by COIR has quite a different meaning in Ireland. The unspecified dead are those executed by the British after the 1916 rising and those who died fighting the British in the war of 1919. Perhaps they include others regarded by nationalists and republicans as martyrs.
Those who've been following the campaign closely tell me that for the first time in such a campaign traditional Irish nationalism is playing a part alongside arguments about agriculture, economics, neutrality. Not all the angles are expected.
One person I talk to (oh, alright that first point of contact for most visiting journalists to any country, the taxi driver) argues the EU has made the country prosperous, but money has spoiled the country. He will vote "no".
It is only one argument among many, of course. One of the reasons politicians dislike referendums is that they allow people to vote on what question they would like to answer. Curiously one rarely hears this at general elections where (in Britain, and other countries with constituencies and a first past the post system) it's just as true that the formal question is about one's choice of individual MP rather than opinions on the right prime minister, or the economy.
One of the detailed arguments that is making the rounds in Ireland is the impact of a treaty that shrinks the commission to 18 members. At the moment there are 27 commissioners: one for every country that is a member of the EU. Although their brief is to impartially represent the European Union as a whole, it is a fact that they also act as advocates for their national interest and are important conduits between their national capitals and Brussels.
There's no doubt losing a commissioner for five years at a stretch would be a significant loss of national influence, particularly for a smaller country. I'm sure the EU would try to find ways to soften the blow, with number two roles in commissioners' cabinets where policy is decided and prominent roles in the civil service. A big job in the council or the parliament would also be dangled in the direction of losers but nevertheless countries would face a temporary loss of a seat at the top table.
The alternative is the risk that the already large commission of 27 would expand still further. Roles like commissioner for multilingualism and for consumer protection had to be invented when Bulgaria and Romania joined the union. When Croatia joins there will have to be another one (any suggestions for what role?) Obviously for those who want to leave or abolish the EU these are not real dilemmas, the conundrum is their point. But it is tricky for those who talk about reform. Neither choice is particularly palatable.