As European leaders prepare for talks starting Wednesday, optimism is souring over negotiations on Britain’s departure from the bloc, which both sides had hoped to resolve before the meeting.

The European Union is reportedly considering ways to avoid the economic calamity that many predict will follow the U.K. “crashing out” without prior arrangements on trade and other matters essential to neighborly coexistence.

ireland-political-map

Once again the sticking point is preventing a “hard” physical border between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

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