Border: Austria-SlovakiaDate(s) of establishment: 1993 (current demarcation)
Length of border: 91 km
Regions concerned: Slovakia – Trnava region, Bratislava region
Austria – Provinces of Lower Austria and Burgenland
The border between Austria and Slovakia is the second shortest in Europe at 91km long. It begins at the tripoint formed by the Czech, Slovak and Austrian borders, near the towns of Hohenau an der March and Borský Svätý Jur, running southwards before turning towards the east and following the Morava river to the tripoint between the Hungarian, Austrian and Slovak borders.
The current demarcation of this border was established in 1993 with the creation of Slovakia, following the partition of Czechoslovakia.
It had already been in existence since 1919 after Czechoslovakia’s declaration of independence. In 1939, Germany invaded the region and divided it into several protectorates, subtly modifying the borders in favour of Austria. At the end of the war, the previous demarcation was re-established (with the exception of part of Bratislava). During the cold war, this border was part of the iron curtain and thus represented a real obstacle between the two countries. With the partition of Czechoslovakia, no modification was made to the demarcation.
Up to 2004, this was the only border linking Slovakia to the European Union. For this reason, it is both economically and politically important. The short distance between the capitals of the two countries, at only 60km, has played a significant role in cross-border cooperation, as has the cross-border infrastructure linking them: two railway lines, two motorways, a ferry crossing, roads, etc.
Since the opening of borders in 2007 and Slovakia joining the Schengen Area, economic cooperation took a leap forward in 2009 when Slovakia began using the euro.
Nevertheless, the situation in the two countries is not the same. In Slovakia, the border region is the most developed in the country, which is not the case on the Austrian side. These disparities represent the greatest challenge for cross-border cooperation: increasing the economic competitiveness of the region without increasing the disparities between the rates of growth on either side of the border. For this reason, cross-border cooperation and the development of exchanges is intended to promote a regional economy founded upon knowledge and the shared cultural heritage, while encouraging social inclusion on both sides of the border.
Transport infrastructure (mentioned above) mostly serves the capitals, and accessibility is not yet sufficient for other parts of the cross-border territory. Cooperation in this field is a condition for broader cross-border development.
The environment represents another important area for cooperation and cross-border governance still needs to agree on shared management of these issues, including on subjects such as energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Since their accession to the Schengen Area, the Slovaks are increasingly buying homes on the Austrian side of the border, several kilometres from Bratislava, where they continue to work.
They are looking for a pleasant lifestyle and the Austrian border region offers property that is more affordable and situated in a less urbanised environment. Moreover, given the lack of economic dynamism on the Austrian side (due to its rural nature), Slovak citizens benefit from state financial assistance when buying property and attractive loans offered by Austrian banks.
Today, it is estimated that there are 25,000 Slovaks living in Austria. These population flows, and the necessity to cater for these day-to-day journeys, are the reason for the current development of urban transport networks.
Territory projects and institutional bodies for cooperation
Cross-border cooperation at the regional levelRégion Centrope (Vienne-Bratislava-Brno-Győr)