Border: Austria-Italy

Date(s) of establishment: 1919
Length of border: 430 km
Regions concerned: Austria – Tyrol, Kartern; Italy – Trentino Alto-Adige/Südtirol, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

European programme(s):

The border begins in the west, at the ‘Dreilanderpunkt’ tripoint where the borders of Austria, Italy and Switzerland meet. The demarcation of the border, entirely terrestrial, follows the ridgeline of the Carnic Alps mountain range. It also marks the allocation of waters between the watercourses Inn and Adige. Le border ends at Monte Forno, the summit that marks the tripoint between the Austrian, Italian and Slovenian borders.


The border between Italy and Austria has existed with its current demarcation since 1919 and the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In 1938, following the annexation of Austria by Germany, it nevertheless mutated into an Italian-German border. Despite the participation of Italy as an ally of Germany in the Second World War, the border was not modified by the peace treaty signed in 1947.

This border has the particularity of being the first “mobile border,” recognised as such, in the world. Indeed, the border treaty signed in Vienna in 1994 stipulates that it is likely to move as a consequence of environmental changes. However, a diplomatic agreement is necessary between Italy and Austria to confirm these shifts, which is not the case between Italy and Switzerland whose demarcation is automatically updated according to these changes.

Cross-border cooperation

This rather economically vibrant cross-border space does not have the same significance for both countries. Indeed, located in northern Italy, the level of employment in this area is 10% higher in comparison to the rest of Italy. In contrast, it is slightly lower here compared to the rest of Austria.

In this context, the objectives of the cross-border cooperation programme between the two countries (2007-2013) aims to increase economic competitiveness while taking care to prevent the growth of existing inequalities on both sides of the border. This involves, for example, the diversification of activities and innovation, allowing cross-border workers to increase their capacity for adaptation.

A mountainous natural area, the territory also owes its attractiveness to its biodiversity and its pleasant environment. It would be appropriate to manage its protection on a cross-border scale, and for this reason the Interreg programme also supports hazard prevention and the development of renewable energy. Furthermore, it recommends the reduction of administrative obstacles in order to increase exchanges within this region already united by its landscape.

Within this cross-border space, the Austrian province of Tyrol and the Italian province of Bolzano/Bozen (in English ‘South Tyrol’) are involved in more advanced cooperation. Despite the natural obstacles, they maintain numerous exchanges in the artistic and cultural fields, notably within the Tyrol–South Tyrol–Trentino Euroregion.

Photo: Monte Coglians, Carnic Alps (Copyright: Herzi Pinki)

Territory projects and institutional bodies for cooperation

Cross-border cooperation at the regional level

Communauté de travail Alpe-Adria
Arge Alp