I have met individually with my UK counterpart, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling on Brexit matters on three occasions over the past 20 months.
I met the Secretary of State at my request in London on 26 May 2017 to discuss the transport implications of Brexit. I met him, again at my request, on the margins of Transport Council in Brussels on 5 December 2017, and most recently, at the Secretary of State’s request, I met him in Dublin on 8 November 2018.
In relation to the most recent meeting, the parameters of the discussion were clearly communicated to the Secretary of State in advance, in particular the need to fully respect the mandate of the EU’s Chief Negotiator in negotiating for the MS27 and that the discussion could not stray into the area of negotiations.
At that meeting of 8 November, the Secretary of State Grayling outlined the key areas of concern for the UK in relation to transport. For my part, I set out the importance of continued transport connectivity between Ireland and the UK, including in relation to ports, aviation, road transport, and cross-border rail. I stressed the importance of finalising the Withdrawal Agreement, highlighted the importance of the UK landbridge for Ireland as a route to European markets, and the need for Irish trade to move efficiently through ports.
I stressed that as regards the future EU-UK relationship, Ireland wants to see the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK, across a range of areas including transport. At the same time, I re-iterated the importance of preserving the integrity of the EU’s Single Market and that the EU’s regulatory autonomy is respected.