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Please, please, no more Lisbon

APPROPRIATELY enough, as Halloween approaches, the ghost of the Lisbon Treaty walks again. Surely we are not going to have to go through all that again. Surely, by voting for the treaty (albeit the second time around) we gave the European Union the power to make decisions without calling on the Irish to hold a referendum?

Unfortunately for us, it is not as simple as that. When the German Chancellor proposes that if a country repeatedly breaches debt and deficit rules its EU voting rights should be suspended, she has Ireland firmly in her sights. And the gun is decidedly frontloaded.

The Taoiseach has declared the suggestion a non-runner, and other member states are also opposed to it.

The other Franco-German proposal may be a little more to Ireland's liking. That is, the €770bn rescue mechanism agreed in May to be put on a permanent footing.

Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy agreed the proposals at a meeting in Deauville last week, a powerful tete-a-tete which echoes some of the warnings of the anti-treaty lobby last year and which has annoyed other member states.

It is not clear whether the Lisbon Treaty could be legally amended by some sort of keyhole surgery to accommodate the German permanent rescue mechanism, or whether it would require substantial change.

Any action will require unanimity among the 27 member states. But that is what we were told the last time.

No, not another referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Please let's not go there.