The current borders of European nation states are losing many of their functions to date and are ceasing to be borders of a merely political character. The role of non-state and non-governmental institutions is increasing. These processes incline to the questioning of the character and function of the newly-forming types of political borders. In order to answer these questions, one should reach for the classical understanding of 'territory', 'border' and 'state', from ancient times (the Roman Empire), via the Middle Ages and the French Revolution up to contemporary times. The result of this analysis demonstrates that territory as a space held within a legal framework is an essence and defines the character of statehood. It carries with it several consequences such as the territory's becoming an area over which extends the defined authority of the state, or that within the borders of its territory, the state has a monopoly on the exercise of authority. Hence the conclusion that borders are a basic political institution which organises the space for running the politics and activities of the state. The subsequent element of the analysis is the functions which borders fulfil. There are five: defensive, legal, economic, ideological and socio-psychological. Finally, it appears that borders are intricate and multi-functional phenomena which results in their fulfilling ever more manifold functions. They are agencies of sovereignty and security, institutions of social constraint and symbols of the diverse economic and political situations of states.
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