Audit on the protection of nature in the Region Lake Neusidl Ferto
Report ID: 2

The nature-protection of the area is basically determined by obligations emerging from international agreements signed by both countries. Among them are the RAMSAR-Convention (“Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat”), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the EU-Directives on Bird Protection, respectively Habitat. Lake Neusiedl/Fertő is a frontier water; therefore the provisions of the Helsinki Agreement on cross-border waterways and the protection of international lakes are taken into consideration with special importance.

In the region of Lake Neusiedl/Fertő, on the Hungarian side HUF 14,486.4 million domestic and HUF 1,476.5 million international resources were used for environment and nature protection developments.

Of this, HUF 289.3 million was spent on direct nature protection aims, while the rest served the purposes of traffic developments with a special focus on decreasing air pollution, and the construction of bicycle roads. The shortcoming was observed that the so-called other financial expenditures spent on the audited field, and the expenditures of professional tasks discharged by certain professional bodies, agencies, could not be demonstrated separately.

A recommendation was made to the minister that the accounting of the expenditures going to nature protection be established.

In Hungary, the natural, preservation and surrounding zones of Lake Neusiedl/Fertő were designated, but the list of these was not published in legal regulations; therefore it is not official. In case of the Lake Neusiedl/Fertő area, such legal provisions on increasingly protected and protected areas were applied, that are in line with the international requirements and set out in the law on nature protection.

For the protected areas, management plans valid from 2003 were made, in which the management and cultivation prescriptions were defined by parcel, in accordance with the characteristic features of the land and nature. However, the subsidy necessary for execution and the regulations on indemnification resulting from the restrictions of use are still outstanding. Therefore, the Hungarian State Audit Office has recommended that the government issue the decree on this issue as soon as possible. In its reply the government has indicated that the  preparation of the decree is underway.

Some of the different areas in Austria were clearly determined by law or other regulations. Some other nominations or borders, like the Biosphere Reserve of the UNESCO and the European Biogenetic Reserve could not be empathised at the Government of the Federal State of Burgenland. The cartographic definition of the borders of the RAMSAR protected area was adapted and changed during the audit. The Austrian Court of Audit recommended, to gather all relevant data concerning protected areas and international awards in a single central database. For the sake of juridical guarantee the borders of the different areas should be fixed, updated and defined by the exact borders of the pieces of land. The Government of the Federal State of Burgenland responded, that there were no files about the awards of UNESCO and European Council available, because the Federal State was not involved in the process of nomination.

The demanded update of the borders in the region of Lake Neusiedl/Fertő is in preparation.

The preservation of the protected areas is carried out by the two countries with different methods. On the Hungarian side, the areas have come – through buying-up – under state ownership, and were then utilised in frame of own activity, i.e. agricultural production (animal husbandry, grazing), or leasing out. In frame of safeguarding land for protection purposes, endeavours were made to establish larger, adjoining areas by keeping aspects of economy in mind. In addition to bringing the lands under state management, no other alternative solutions – e.g. renting – have come up. As a result of the decrease of state resources, the rate of buying-up has slowed; therefore a recommendation was made to the minister in charge of environment protection that necessary financial resources should be provided, in order to close the program as soon as possible.

In Austria safeguarding land was done by renting land. For the National Park Neuiedler See–Seewinkel. 9.650 ha were rented from the owners (at the end of 2001). In total there were twelve rent agreements, mainly with interest groups. The Austrian Court of Audit recommended for future contracts to aim at long–term rent agreements.

Besides, a comparison of expected expenses and possible kinds of financing should be made. On the Hungarian side, several developments aimed at the protection of the environment and nature were carried out in the audited region. In the area of reptile-migration, tunnels have been constructed under the motorway running in the area.

Within the framework of mine reconstructions, the revitalisation and restoration of the former open-pit mining areas took place.

The Austrian Court of Audit found out that the actual state of the fishstocks was unsatisfactory due to the distortion of species. The Government of the Federal State of Burgenland reported, that the release of eels (Anguilla anguilla) will be stopped. To protect the fishstocks. Hungarian authorities have submitted a joint project concerning the acquisition of the fishery right.

In consequence of the measures and investments, the quality of water is sufficient; this is checked through continuous water-quality tests, and dredging has been carried out when necessary. As a result of the measures and investments, the habitat of water fauna and flora can be considered secured. The economic use of the salty ponds, that are located in Austrian territory, results in disruption of the natural water management and as a consequence in losses of typical plants and in devastation of the ponds, due to the overwhelming penetration of reed and soil. This endangers the typical fauna of the region.

The Austrian Court of Audit recommended measures for the restitution of ponds. The Government of the Federal State of Burgenland reported the beginning of the restitution of ponds in the National Park, which led to a retreat of reed. Except of singular events there are no more disturbances of the natural water management of the ponds. In addition Beside the Hanság Channel serving the conduct of water from the lake, the Hungarian experts, to maintain and protect the water fauna and flora, have carried out habitat reconstruction covering 430 hectares.

A factor basically influencing the water quality of the lake is the wastewater management of the communities of the area. On the Hungarian side, the channelling of waste waters from the catchment area of the lake – with the exception of three sewage water treatment plants – has practically been solved, the pollution of problematic plants is expected to cease with the investment project due to finish in 2006. The further filtering of pollution will be ensured in the year 2003 by the putting into operation of the two filter-fields established in the cane-field.

For the communities on the western shore of the Lake a central waste water facility was constructed in the community of Schützen am Gebirge. It shall replace the existing nine local facilities.

The quality of reed stock in the Hungarian part of the lake has decreased even though modern equipment – satellite photographs – have been used for the surveillance of its state and quality and the monitoring of the reed harvest. In the interest of professional reed management and the improvement of the quality of the cane-field the management authorities are making efforts to terminate the monopolistic right of usage of reed production. The Hungarian State Audit Office has recommended that the government should issue a decree uniformly regulating reed management.

In Austria there were conflicts of use with agriculture, hunting, fishery and tourism. Drainage in the interest of agriculture has caused the creeping degradation of soil and the salty ponds, due to the continuous loss of salt. A guidance system for visitors, with the indications of requirements and prohibitions, was established only in the National Park. The intensive agricultural use resulted in endangering the typical habitats. Measures for agricultural downgrading, as they are implemented in the National Park, should be extended. Besides, the hunting of waterfowls in a RAMSAR protection area should be scrutinised. Any economic use of the ponds has to be avoided.

In the interest of the preparation of the nature protection measures and decisions, as well as the monitoring of the condition of the region, regular research and monitoring programs are carried out on the lake and in its environment in both countries.

The preparation of a program aimed at the longterm utilisation of the lake has emerged as a central issue. In 2002, the Hungarian National Park – as a result of examinations and professional work – prepared a long-term professional study. In the interest of securing the long-term, unified utilisation of Lake Neusiedl/Fertő, the State Audit Office recommended that the study should be developed into a comprehensive professional and financial project.

In the framework of the EU–initiative INTERREG II two projects were carried out in the Austrian National Park in co-operation with the administration of the Hungarian National Park.

Besides, many research and scientific projects were financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and the Government of the Federal State of Burgenland. The Biological Center Illmitz was also permanently involved in projects of research and monitoring.

The Austrian Court of Audit recommended to develop a concept for research, nature protection and measures of development and to make up a ranking of the planned measures. The Government of the Federal State of Burgenland reported that the Scientific Advisory Board of the Austrian National Park was working on an overall research framework.

Besides, a co–financed project concerning the ponds is planned. In Hungary, the tasks related to the nature protection of Lake Neusiedl/Fertő are carried out by The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Water and its subordinate agencies, while in the Republic of Austria by the Office of the Government of the Federal State Burgenland. The Hungarian and Austrian authorities co-operate within the framework of the Austrian–Hungarian Committee for the National Parks, as well as Austrian–Hungarian Committee for cross border waterbodies. The relationship is outstandingly good, especially in the area of water management, in the framework of which – in addition to data exchange – the water quality is tested continuously and regularly.

The two supreme audit institutions have established in harmony with one another that the results, respectively the acceptance and recognition of the results, prove that the co-operation between Hungary and Austria is excellent both in the field of water issues and the national parks.

Parallel Audit of the Austrian Court of Audit and the Swiss Federal Audit Office - Controll of VAT
Report ID: 3

In a parallel audit the Austrian Court of Audit and the Swiss Federal Audit Office carried out a comparison of VAT inspections in the context of inspections on the premises in both countries. The year 2002 served as the basis for comparison, unless otherwise indicated.

Key Figures

In Switzerland there are approximately 300,000 registered entities liable to pay VAT; in Austria there are more than one million taxable entities. The comparatively high figure in Austria is due to approximately one million small enterprises subject to tax, the figure for these in Switzerland is only 186,600.

In Switzerland 160 inspectors were assigned to the VAT inspections, and they carried out approximately 6,700 audits. In Austria approximately 1,746 inspectors carried out around 42,500 audits, which – with the exception of special audits (Umsatzsteuer–Sonderprüfung) – concerned all attributable federal taxes.

In Switzerland, due to the activities of the inspectors, subsequent claims amounting to approximately EUR 164 million were made.

In Austria external audits led to EUR 1,293 million worth of subsequent tax claims, of which EUR 497 million concerned VAT.

In Switzerland an inspection resulted in a subsequent average VAT claim of approximately EUR 24,600 EUR, while in Austria the total subsequent average claim was approximately EUR 30,400, approximately EUR 11,700 of which was VAT.

In Switzerland, an inspector achieved on average subsequent claims of approximately EUR 1 million per annum, whereas in Austria the activities of an external auditor resulted on average in subsequent tax claims of approximately EUR 0.7 million, of which EUR 0.3 million concerned VAT.

The VAT system is similarly structured in both countries. However, existing differences should be taken into account in interpreting the comparison.


The normal tax rate in Austria is 20 %, in Switzerland this is 7.6 %. The annual revenue level at which liability to value–added tax is incurred is considerably higher in Switzerland than in Austria.

This level is EUR 48,585 (CHF 75,000). In Austria tax liability is already incurred by annual revenues of more than EUR 22,000, which ex plains why so many small enterprises in Austria are registered to pay tax.

Organisational structure

In contrast to Switzerland, VAT in Austria is levied and inspected together with income tax and profits tax. 41 regional tax offices have been set up to this end. Monitoring the biggest enterprises is carried out by special organisational units.

The VAT inspections in Switzerland are carried out by the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) in Bern. The inspectors are based all over Switzerland.

Monitoring procedure

In Austria the procedure of a VAT–inspection is regulated in a published service regulation and is transparent for all involved. A concluding discussion on the premises about the results of the external audit is compulsory. The supplementary tax claims are stipulated by decree. Up–to–date controls are carried out using a special method, a special VAT audit (Umsatzsteuer–Sonderprüfung).

In Switzerland general information is published about the procedure concerning VAT inspections. The procedure has been standardized into three types of inspections.

Case selection and allocation

In Austria, tax offices draw up annual audit plans on the basis of three criteria (time, group and individual selection). The cases to be inspected over the coming weeks are assigned by the management.

In Switzerland, an inspector from the Federal Tax Administration receives a list of about 200 enterprises, (criteria–based selection and random selection) for several years, from which inspection cases are selected by the inspector himself. In addition, inspections which are particularly urgent are assigned by the management.

Controlling data

In Austria the relevant controlling data are published annually in a so–called “Anti–Fraud Report“.

In Switzerland there is a minimum of controlling data for internal use.

Environmental Audit Report on the three-border area of Hungary Slovenia and Austria
Report ID: 5

The Austrian Court of Audit conducted an audit at the Federal Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture, Environment and Water Management and at the provincial governments of the provinces Styria and Burgenland. The audit took place from April to May 2005 and concerned the environmental situation at the border to Hungary and Slovenia. The audit focused on water quality (bodies of flowing water and ground water), soil quality and nature conservation (Natura 2000). The audit compared the actual state of the audited territory with the quality objectives as well as assessed the measures taken by the responsible authorities concerning their effectiveness to preserve and improve the environmental situation. The audited period covered the years from 2000 to the beginning of 2005.


Within their supervision duties the authorities responsible for water management (water management authorities) checked whether the municipal and industrial sewage treatment plants complied with the conditions defined by legal regulations and permissions. A comparison of the supervision activities in both provinces showed that the authorities of the province Burgenland investigated in a weekly rhythm whereas in Styria municipal plants were inspected three to six times a year and industrial plants usually once or twice a year.


In the opinion of the Austrian Court of Audit the inspection activities of the authorities should be harmonized all over Austria. It recommended that the Federal Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture, Environment and Water Management should work out guidelines concerning the frequency of controls. The frequency should be defined in such a way, that the water management authorities obtain a good overview of the installed systems and their emissions.


The objective of the Austrian Water Act concerning ground water quality is to obtain good chemical and quantitative conditions, a balance between extraction and regeneration and a quality, which generally allows the utilization of ground water as drinking water.

The Federal Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture, Environment and Water Management defined limit values for immissions by issuing regulations concerning drinking water and ground water. Based on the European Nitrate Directive an action programme was developed to protect the water bodies and to reduce and prevent water pollution caused by the agricultural use of land. This “Action Programme Nitrate” limits the application of fertilizers on agriculturally used land.

NATURA 2000 European network
Report ID: 6

Umsetzung des Natura 2000–Netzwerks in Österreich

Die Errichtung des Natura 2000–Netzwerks in Österreich war noch nicht abgeschlossen. Wesentliche Mängel betrafen die rechtliche Umsetzung sowie die Bereiche Gebietsmanagement und Monitoring.

Durch die Ausdehnung des Schutzes von Lebensräumen auch auf Flächen, die keine Schutzgebiete im klassischen Sinne waren, stellt das EU–weit einzurichtende Natura 2000–Netzwerk eine neue Dimension des Naturschutzes dar. Für rd. 6.900 km2 der Natura 2000–

Gebiete bedeutete Natura 2000 eine Verbesserung des Schutzes.

Der RH überprüfte die Umsetzung des Natura 2000–Netzwerks in Österreich. Ziele der Überprüfung waren der Stand der rechtlichen Umsetzung zweier EU–Richtlinien und die Nominierung der Gebiete.

Weiters wurde die Qualität der Schutzmaßnahmen, des Gebietsmanagements und vorhandener Monitoring–Systeme bewertet.

Natura 2000 geht weit über den traditionellen Naturschutz hinaus. Im Mittelpunkt der geplanten Maßnahmen steht das Ziel, eine Verschlechterung der Lebensbedingungen der Arten zu verhindern. Darüber hinaus bewirkt der generelle Schutz der Lebensräume deren Erhaltung und allenfalls Verbesserung auch außerhalb der unter Schutz gestellten Flächen.

Anfang 2007 waren in Österreich 215 Gebiete mit einer Gesamtfl äche von rd. 12.300 km2 nominiert. Sie umfassten rd. 14,7 % der Gesamtfl äche Österreichs.

In den sechs vom RH überprüften Ländern — in diesen befinden sich rd. 90 % der Natura 2000–Flächen Österreichs — standen etwa 40 % der als Natura 2000–Gebiet nominierten Flächen schon vor ihrer Nominierung unter hochwertigem Schutz. Durch die Nominierung gewannen rd. 60 % der Natura 2000–Flächen — das sind rd. 6.900 km2 — an Schutz.

Anfang 2007 war erst ein Teil der notwendigen Schutzgebietsverordnungen erlassen. Ein vorläufi ger Schutz der Gebiete war allerdings durchwegs gewährleistet.

Eine nähere Konkretisierung des Schutzzwecks erfolgte nur in Niederösterreich und Salzburg; ansonsten war der entsprechende Handlungsrahmen (Gebote und Verbote) kaum festgelegt.

Managementpläne waren in unterschiedlichem Ausmaß vorhanden bzw. in Bearbeitung. Sie waren in Umfang, Inhalt und Qualität sehr unterschiedlich; die Erstellung erfolgte zumeist ohne klare

Prioritätenreihung. Durch ihren Charakter als Leitlinien waren die Managementpläne rechtlich nicht verbindlich.

In den überprüften Ländern waren in unterschiedlichem Ausmaß Gebietsbetreuer eingesetzt. Deren konkrete Aufgaben waren — wenn überhaupt — in jedem Land anders festgelegt.

Ein fl ächendeckendes Monitoring–System zur Überwachung des Erhaltungszustands der geschützten Gebiete und Arten war in keinem der Länder eingerichtet. Zur Zeit der Gebarungsüberprüfung arbeitete die Länderarbeitsgruppe für internationale Naturschutzangelegenheiten an den Grundlagen für ein bundesweit einheitliches Monitoringkonzept.

Die Länder fi nanzierten das Natura 2000–Netzwerk nicht nur aus den Naturschutzbudgets, sondern zu einem großen Teil auch durch Mittel aus anderen Bereichen (z.B. Wasserbau, Landwirtschaft einschließlich ländlicher Entwicklung, Raumplanung). Bezogen auf die einzelnen Länder reichte der EU–Mittelanteil von knapp 27 % bis über 60 %.

Eine weitere Feststellung betraf die Verbesserung der bundesländerübergreifenden Zusammenarbeit hinsichtlich des Natura 2000– Netzwerks.

Environmental Audit Report on the three-border area of Hungary Slovenia and Austria - Follow-up
Report ID: 9

Umweltsituation im Dreiländereck Österreich–Ungarn–Slowenien; Follow–up–Überprüfung


Ziel der Follow–up–Überprüfung der Umweltsituation im Dreiländereck war, die Umsetzung von Empfehlungen und Feststellungen zu beurteilen, die der RH bei der Gebarungsüberprüfung im Jahr 2005 abgegeben hatte und deren Verwirklichung die Länder Burgenland und Steiermark bzw. das BMLFUW zugesagt hatten.

Land Burgenland

Der vom RH aufgezeigte Rückstand bei der Erstellung von Jahresberichten der Gewässeraufsicht konnte abgebaut werden.

Die Empfehlung des RH, auf die rasche Sanierung der Abwasserreinigungsanlage Glasing hinzuwirken, wurde durch die Bewilligung eines Projekts für die Erweiterung und Anpassung an den Stand der Technik umgesetzt.

Vom RH war aufgezeigt worden, dass die Behörden bisher keine wirksamen Schritte zur Herstellung des rechtmäßigen Zustandes gesetzt hatten. Die Bezirkshauptmannschaft in Jennersdorf erteilte im Dezember 2007 für eine betriebliche Abwasserreinigungsanlage die wasserrechtliche Bewilligung einer dritten Ausbaustufe zur Verringerung des Risikos der Schaumbildung auf der Raab; die Fertigstellung der Anlage ist mit Ende 2009 vorgeschrieben.

Land Steiermark

Entsprechend der Empfehlung des RH wurden in der Südoststeiermark die Wasserversorgungsleitungen ausgebaut und die Ortsnetze erweitert, wodurch rd. 8.000 Einwohner zusätzlich mit Trinkwasser versorgt werden können.

Der RH hatte auf die Bedeutung der Grundwasservorkommen für die Trinkwasserversorgung hingewiesen. Zur Verbesserung der Trinkwasserqualität im Leibnitzer Feld wurden die Grundwasserschongebietsverordnungen novelliert. Für das Nördliche Leibnitzer Feld war eine diesbezügliche Anpassung in Arbeit. Eine Stabilisierung der Nitratbelastung lässt sich aus den Konzentrationen im Grundwasser ablesen.

Im Bereich der Fließgewässer konnte die Empfehlung des RH zur Erhöhung der Kontrollfrequenz der Gewässeraufsicht durch den Einsatz von zwei neuen Mitarbeitern umgesetzt werden.

Ab dem Jahr 2006 verstärkte die Gewässeraufsicht gemäß der Empfehlung des RH die Kontrolltätigkeit bezogen auf das Grundwasser erheblich.

Der RH hatte auf Überschreitungen von Emissionsgrenzwerten hingewiesen. Für die betriebliche Abwasserreinigungsanlage in Feldbach erging im November 2007 ein wasserrechtlicher Bescheid, der die Errichtung einer dritten Ausbaustufe bis Ende 2008 vorsah. Damit soll das Schaumbildungspotenzial auf der Raab reduziert werden.

Im Jahr 2007 erließ die Landesregierung die Klärschlammverordnung 2007 und glich entsprechend der Anregung des RH die Schadstoffgrenzwerte an die Kompostverordnung des Bundes an.

Die Empfehlung des RH, die vom Agrarumweltprogramm ÖPUL erfassten Flächen zu erhöhen, konnte nicht umgesetzt werden.


In teilweiser Umsetzung der Empfehlung des RH erließ das BMLFUW die Qualitätszielverordnung Chemie–Oberfl ächengewässer. Eine Qualitätszielverordnung Ökologie, die Immissionsgrenzwerte vor allem für Nährstoffparameter festlegen soll, steht noch aus.

Eine Harmonisierung der Kontrollfrequenz der Gewässeraufsicht konnte entgegen der Empfehlung des RH noch nicht erzielt werden.