The feasibility of implementing integrated river basin management in countries with strong federal structures such as Austria or Germany has always been questioned. The present systems of water management in two Austrian states are examined as case studies. The obstacles to integrated river basin management are analysed. A possible solution is suggested, involving all stakeholders within an institutional framework to be created under the federal water law. In addition, the implications of the proposed EU Water Framework Directive for a federal state within a large, politically diversified basin (Danube River Basin) are analysed. Future prospects for river basin management, despite the inherent difficulties, are bright.

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