The Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) is entrusted by law with the task of surveying and marking the state border, and in this way contributes toward the establishment and maintenance of good neighbourly relations with the eight countries bordering on Austria. This task is performed within the framework of bilateral border commissions, each consisting of an Austrian delegation and a delegation from the particular neighbouring state. As far as Austria is concerned, all interested bodies at the level of the federal government and the federal states are represented in the border commissions. The objective of these activities is to maintain the state border so that its course is clearly recognisable in nature and to document the state border by technical and legal means.
Matters pertaining to the state border are regulated internally for Austria in the 1986 Federal Ministries Act (Bundesministeriengesetz) Federal Law Gazette No 76/86 as amended and in the State Border Act (Staatsgrenzgesetz) Federal Law Gazette No 9/74. The State Border Act contains provisions that stipulate procedures in bilateral agreements on the surveying and marking of the state border and that regulate certain matters pertaining to the state border.
State borders in a unified Europe
State borders should in no way represent a barrier. The aim of the European Community is to break down such barriers to business, culture and a great many other areas. Cross-border projects contribute to breaking down barriers by intensifying cooperation within the border regions.
Yet, in order to carry out cooperative building projects on the borders of the Republic of Austria, it is always important to know the course of the boundaries. Marking the boundary through the use of boundary stones makes it possible to clearly recognise how the boundary runs in nature. The course of the state border is surveyed and recorded in legally binding border documents (Grenzurkunden). Documentation of the precise course of the state border is essential for carrying out joint projects.
The state borders can change, particularly when building work is carried out which involves paths and rivers. In such cases the border marking, as well as the documentation of the course of the border, need to be revised. Such changes are regulated in agreements between the countries involved. It is thus necessary to consistently monitor and record the state border in order to be able to provide up-to-date documents whenever activities are carried out on the border.