Netherlands / Belgium border change


Someone noticed and mentioned to the DWG a relatively new user making border changes to OSM. One of the changes is at , which you can see in OsmCha at by zooming in to the west of the area.

Does the change look reasonable? Attempts to contact the mapper has failed, but the changes don’t at first glance look problematical.

Best Regards,

Andy Townsend, on behalf of OSM’s Data Working Group.

I don’t think this is OK.

First, when making changes to an international border, there has to be a very reliable source. No source was mentioned in this changeset.

Second, the border was OK according to official data, so no reason for any change.

Third, in one changeset this user has made a correction to the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, and at the same time made a correction on the German-Polish border.


Thanks for letting all of us know.

The official border can be viewed here: (overige kaarten → bestuurlijke grenzen → Landsgrens)

According to the above map the old situation is the correct one.

In an earlier changeset the user aparently changed the contours of a nature reserve to also include the small bit of nature across the border. Then later in the changeset you mentioned he also modified the country border to follow the newly drawn boundary of the nature area.

The border edit probably was not done in bad faith, but it might be best to revert it anyway and restore the old version of the border.

I’ve restored the border using the official boundary data.
Is it valid this area belongs to both Netherlands and Germany?

If I remember correctly, this is a disputed area, claimed both by Netherlands and Germany. Should be a thread about this in the forum already.


The thread in question is actually:

The double boundaries exist because both the Dutch and German view of their respective national borders are reflected.

This keeps both local mappers happy and prevents and edit-war where one of the views constantly gets reverted by the other party.

No, I think that cannot be the reason according to DWG policy. A proper reason would be that the area is governed de facto by both countries jointly. Fortunately, that would lead to the same result.

Following DWG policy leads to both local communities being unhappy, and most likely an edit war.

The local communities decided on a better compromise we can both live with.

DWG should respect the choice of the local communities involved.

When the production of natural gas from the Groningen field will cease, because the fact that this gas field straddles the border (whatever) between Netherlands and Germany is the main, if not the only, reason for the dispute, the dispute will be over as nobody wants to dispute some wetland with seagulls and seals.

Then it will be some historic thing as Baarle-Hertog.

Let us be happy with this situation!

This discrepancy (we can’t rightly call this a dispute) is well documented and accepted, and has been so since the 1960s. In 2014 a couple of laws and guidelines were formally realigned between the two countries, but the border situation was kept as it is now (correctly mapped on OSM).

The reason for the 2014 joint statement was not mining rights (i.e., gas fields), but the planned construction of a wind farm in that area. With the 2014 bilateral agreement any ambiguities about which country governs what have been resolved, but the border(s) will stay like it is (with both countries overlapping) for the foreseeable future, probably because resolving it turned out to be too much of a bother.

To be clear - the DWG only has to intervene when the parties concerned have not managed to come to some accommodation. There are a few places where there are “overlapping admin_level=2” areas, and often both sides of a dispute respect the other side of the dispute, while still claiming that their claim is the valid one. There’s recently been a thread on the talk@ mailing list about it and I mentioned this case there as an example where “both sides are happy with the current representation”. If the Dutch and German communities in OSM are happy with things as they are then there’s no need to change.

I originally started this thread about a change the the Belgian / Dutch border, not the Dutch / German one. I’m not aware that anyone’s ever complained about the representation of the Dutch / German border.

I’m aware of the Crimea thread, the previous situation similar to the Dutch/German border was better in my opinion, but since it affects land instead of water in our case it has wider implications.

Reflecting both claims to a territory in OSM is in my opinion a good compromise that could also be applied to Crimea. But that likely makes the local community in Crimea unhappy because they overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation. So I also understand the decision DWG made.

thank you


Martin, some historic info: the dispute is actually caused by a very old 15th century treaty on the German side where the Earl of Ost-Friesland was granted control over the Ems. The dispute excisted way before any natural gas was found.
Internationally the Dutch interpretation of the border, the center of the Ems, is accepted.
Recent conflicts are not about gas but wind-mills. Currently control over the Ems estuary is shared between both country’s without an actual agreement on the border through a treauty from 2014.

This is an interesting region. Historically the community on both side of the border is closely linked. The language on both sides is simular, and many placenames are almost or completely the same on both sides of the border. The 80-years war was partially fought on what is now Germany. De ‘Schansenkrieg’ included defense-works near Leer und Diele.
Wen visiting one of the touristic places on the shore of the Dollard, Ditzum, one gets the real feeling of this: German, Dutch, Gronings, Plat-Duuts and Ost-Friesisch are spoken and understood. This is mostely true for the complete border region, Reiderland/Rheiderland und Emsland/Westerwolde … proving that borders are in fact fictional lines on paper :wink:
I was born there, and as far as the locals go there is no border …