State Boundaries of Europe (SBE) is born out of willingness for consistent and quality representation of the European international boundaries for cross-border and pan-European geographic information and products.

According to the International Law the definition of a state is based on the “theory of the three elements”, meaning an independent state must have at least these three attributes or elements:
- Territory of a state, containing the definition of this territory and its boundaries;
- People of this state, and
- Their own Authority, i.e. their own legislation and execution.

Bearing this in mind the boundary, an apparently simple feature of a map, actually conceals a complex set of legal, administrative and technical issues. The determination and definition of a common boundary between two states normally is agreed between the two neighbours. These boundary treaties and documents may span a long historical and technical development and thus have a great variety in size, appearance and evidence. Unifying Europe’s geographic data (INSPIRE) it is also necessary to look for the international boundaries of the European states, which justifies the set up of a structured project to address this issue. But it is out of question that the responsibility for the boundary remains at the respective countries.

Thus The State Boundaries of Europe Project's objectives are :

  • Provide and maintain a unique resource for an easy and information on European boundaries,
  • Support to Member NMCAs to identify and solve issues related to national boundaries,
  • Support to pan-European cross-border edge-matching of Base Reference Information, and derived products, as a tool of interoperability for INSPIRE and other services.

The primary State Boundaries of Europe deliverable is the State Boundaries of Europe Dataset comprising three types of information:

  • ETRS89 coordinates (of highest available accuracy) of boundary points, marks and lines, with a minimum set of attributes required for representation and interoperability applications,
  • Legal definition of boundaries and related reference documents (scanned treaties or maps, etc),
  • Topographic features related to or crossing the boundary line.

The Project's phases:

  • 2004-2007 : proof and development of concept, focus on borders on land;
  • 2008 onwards: continuous implementation of the data model and boundary data;
  • 2008: start of working group for borders at sea.

Strategic goals
The EuroGeographics strategy for serving Reference Information requires consistency between the datasets at different scale ranges. One of the issues to be solved for implementation of this strategy is the cross-border edge matching.

This ‘State Boundaries of Europe’ dataset, or range of datasets (at different resolution levels), would be seen as a building block of the European Location Framework, the common European GI infrastructure promoted by the INSPIRE initiative. Closer to the requirements of EuroGeographics and its members, the ‘State Boundaries of Europe’ dataset would provide a framework to facilitate the maintenance and convergence of our common pan-European products (EuroGlobalMap, EuroRegionalMap, EuroBoundaryMap). Here we are working to agree one regional boundary dataset based on EuroBoundaryMap. This data would be then used for updating EuroRegionalMap and EuroGlobalMap. Ultimately SBE data at the most accurate level would be then the source for generalized EuroBoundaryMap boundaries.

Another strategic goal is to establish the EuroXBoundary edge-matching service so that requirements of the INSPIRE directive can be met. SBE dataset would also be a pre requirement of progressing the Cadastral Index Map for Europe.


A growing number of GI data users, as well as data integrators or service providers are requiring an agreed standard set of national boundaries. This requirement is expressed both by the institutional and by the private sector, at the European as well as at the global level (acute demand from the UN Cartographic Section and the UNGIWG, and the Global Map project).

Indeed, there are as many boundary representations as there are individual datasets, as pan-European projects (EuroBoundaryMap, EuroGlobalMap, EuroRegionalMap …) and cross-border projects have well demonstrated. Each of these projects, and more, had to establish their own view of the common national boundaries, due to the fact that in many cases national or bilateral representations of the boundaries are not consistent.

Nowadays it is self-evident and envisaged by INSPIRE that Geographic Information offers solutions for seamless data sets across boundaries – boundaries between countries, or between data providers. While technology is making significant progress in data integration, no mechanisms are yet being designed for cross border geometric, topologic and semantic integration. State Boundaries of Europe will fill that gap by providing the core data, the agreed ‘ultimate’ boundary representation that will allow operating the cross border plugging mechanisms of GI services.

This approach is very timely, when implementation of the common European coordinate system ETRS89 at the national level is spreading, when simultaneously national cadastre and mapping data are linked, requiring the definition of the boundaries at high accuracy kevels, i.e. on the base of theagreed boundary treaties and boundary documents.



Project objectives
The State Boundaries of Europe project offers a solution to the issues related to cross border geometric and topologic integration by aiming at providing a net of agreed lines and points, to which individual dataset can be plugged in, in order to create a seamless whole.

Therefore the project’s main objective is to create a State Boundaries of Europe dataset, on the base of a common data model and a data network in Europe. This would cover at least the EU, ideally the whole European continent. The first step of this project is set for boundaries on land; a second step would include boundaries on the sea.

The State Boundaries of Europe database will be of the highest available accuracy; however, it must be flexible in order to the actual data availability. Completeness, coverage, and date of release are important criteria. Thus the assembly of the State Boundaries of Europe data base will be incremental, starting with available data, and being improved and completed by then finished boundary data.

A secondary objective, yet very valuable, is the formation of a community of interested experts, who will share knowledge and exchange information between the different actors related to or dealing with boundary matters, and the probable identification of good practices in solving efficiently and economically these issues.

It is a permanent task of the project team to examine the needs of users and customers of boundary data, keep contact to INSPIRE and GMES, and support the ESDIN project by facilitating the effective and efficient EdgeMatching of features at boundaries. Project is already a close contact to FRONTEX and EUROSUR, the EU-initiatives for guarding the borders on land and on sea.