Border: Austria-Switzerland

Date(s) of establishment: 1648 (Treaty of Westphalia); current demarcation in 1919
Length of border: 164 km
Regions concerned: Austria – Tyrol, Vorarlberg
Switzerland – Canton of Graubünden, Canton of St. Gallen

European programme(s):

At a length of 164 km, the Austro-Swiss border has the peculiarity of being divided into two segments. Indeed, Liechtenstein, landlocked by its two neighbours, causes a brief interruption in the border demarcation. The northern segment of the border begins at the tripoint formed by the meeting of the Austro-Swiss and Germano-Swiss borders. The second portion begins south of Liechtenstein and comes to an end near the Resia Pass, at the geographic tripoint between Austria, Italy and Switzerland, which lies at 2000 metres above sea level.


This border has been in existence since the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which put an end to the Thirty Years War and firmly established Switzerland’s independence with regard to the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1719, the birth of Liechtenstein changed the demarcation of the border, dividing it into two distinct portions. Lastly, in 1919, the border underwent another change when South Tyrol was entrusted to Italy following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Cross-border cooperation

The status of Switzerland as a state outside of the European Union is a slight obstacle to the development of cross-border cooperation, but not a prohibitive one, and Switzerland participates in several projects with Austria. In addition, the transnational operational programme “Alpine Space” brings them together on a larger territorial scale.

This programme aims to improve the attractiveness and encourage the development of the Alpine region, by increasing competitiveness, greater use of new technologies, without neglecting the traditional activities of this mountainous region – the essence of its cultural identity, which attracts many tourists.

The programme also aims to improve living standards for the inhabitants of the Alpine region, and for this reason aims to improve accessibility to the region, the development of public services, and a focus on the role of the urban areas (which need to position themselves as the motors of regional development).

Switzerland and Austria are also brought together by the “Alpenrhein – Bodensee – Hochrhein” Interreg programme. This programme concerns a privileged region whose GDP is significantly above the EU average. The region therefore intends to exploit its economic potential with the aim of being at the forefront of innovation and increasing its competitiveness. To reach this goal, the European programme seeks to encourage advanced networking as well as a close cooperation between labour markets on either side of the border. The second strand of the programme is concerned with sustainable development and protection of the resources in this mountainous region, in which the upkeep/maintenance of infrastructure can be problematic.

In addition to these Interreg activities, the two countries hosted the Euro 2008 football championship, necessitating advanced common organisation, a sign of good cross-border relations.

Territory projects and institutional bodies for cooperation

Cross-border cooperation at the regional level

Arge Alp
Communauté de travail Alpe-Adria