The outcome of the vote of 23 June 2016 in the UK will have implications across all aspects of the business of the European Union. While the vote does not give rise to fundamental strategic issues for Defence Forces operations or for Ireland’s continuing engagement within the EU in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), it is expected that Brexit will have an impact on future developments in the Defence sphere.
Brexit is a priority issue for this Government, and the Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I have taken every opportunity to engage with EU partners and the UK to advance Ireland’s priorities.
I have continually engaged with my EU counterparts to highlight Ireland’s concerns in relation to Brexit and to ensure that these concerns are fully reflected in the EU position during negotiations. My activities are reinforced by extensive engagement at diplomatic and official level. At Ministerial level I have ongoing contact with my EU colleagues, both in the context of European Defence and Security, and other matters, including Brexit.
Over the course of the year, my UK Ministerial counterpart has continued to be party to the relevant CSDP discussions at both formal and informal Ministerial meetings. On a bi-lateral basis, while in London last month I paid a courtesy call on the UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, the Rt. Hon. Mark Lancaster TD MP, where areas of mutual interest covered by the UK-IRL MoU on aspects of defence co-operation were the main focus of our discussion. I also regularly meet with my UK Colleague en marge of EU Ministerial meetings.