International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Bulgaria

    Article 15 of Bulgaria’s Constitution reads:

    “The Republic of Bulgaria shall ensure the protection and reproduction of the environment, the conservation of living Nature in all its variety, and the sensible utilization of the country's natural and other resources”.

    As per the Constitution, the Environment Protection Act outlines the principles upon which environmental protection is based, such as:

  • Sustainable development
  • The prevention and reduction of risk to human health
  • The priority of pollution prevention over subsequent remediation of the damages caused thereby
  • The polluter pays principle

Featured Legislation

1996: The Ambient Air Purity Act was enacted, regulating the limitation of emissions into the air from stationary sources and the quality requirements for liquid fuels.

1997: The Plant Protection Act was introduced, overseeing the protection of the plants and plant products from economically important pests; signalization in plant protection; and the integrated production of plants and plant products and the control over the integrated production.

1998: The Protected Areas Act was signed with the aim to conserve and preserve protected areas as a national and universal human wealth and asset and as a special form of conservation of Bulgarian nature.

1999: The Mineral Resources Act was established to govern the terms and procedure for prospecting, exploration and extraction of subsurface resources on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.

2000: The Law on maritime spaces, inland waterways and ports of the Republic of Bulgaria was tabled. This Law hereby regulates the legal regime (mostly administrative issues, technical provisions, and offences and penalties) as regards the maritime spaces, inland waterways and ports that are present/located on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.

2000: The Protection Against the Harmful Impact of Chemical Substances and Mixtures Act was established to regulate the conditions and the procedures for the trade, import, export, storage, use and placement on the market of chemical substances and preparations.

2001: The Fisheries and Aquaculture Act was created to provide the legal basis for the management, exploitation and conservation of fishery resources.

2002: The Environmental Protection Act was signed, providing for the conservation and use of environmental media; the control over the sources of pollution and damage; the establishment of permissible emission levels and of environmental quality standards; the management of the environmental media and of environmental factors, and the issuance of integrated permits for pollution prevention, reduction and control, the designation and management of areas placed under a special regime of protection.

2002: The Biological Diversity Act was passed, ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the Republic of Bulgaria.

2007: The Soils Act was introduced, providing for the prevention of soil degradation and damage to soil functions, protection of soil functions, and for the restoration of damaged soil functions.

2012: The New Waste Management Act was enacted, defining the environmentally sound management of waste as a combination of rights, obligations, decisions, acts and activities related to their generation and treatment, based upon certain information and various forms of control.

2015: The National action Plan for sustainable pesticide use in the Republic of Bulgaria was created. This National Action Plan describes the way in which Bulgaria will ensure implementation of the requirements in this sphere. It defines the objectives, measures, schedules and indicators for the reduction of risks and impact of the use of pesticides on human health and the environment. Pursuant to the requirements of the Directive, it sets out the actions to be taken to encourage integrated pest management and alternative approaches or technologies to reduce dependence on pesticide use. The Directive also envisages observation on the part of Member States of the use of plant protection products containing active substances which give rise to particular concern and the setting of schedules and objectives to cut down on their use, particularly when this represents a suitable way of reducing risk. The Action Plan lists the main legal requirements in the sphere of plant protection, and specifically as regards plant protection products, including rules on their safe and controlled sale, proper use and so on with the aim of protecting human health and taking care of the environment.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity.

  • Boiko Borissov, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, has fired Deputy Environment Minister Krassimir Zhivkov after criminal charges were laid on May 28, 2020. Zhivkov and nine other officials were charged with crimes involving hazardous waste imports, and involvement in organised crime. According to the Prosecutor-General’s office, the investigation began in January after unseparated waste was imported from Italy and transported to Bulgaria’s town of Pleven. Allegations have also surfaced that Zhivkov pressured subordinates to grant permits to process unseparated waste to companies that did not meet Bulgaria’s legal requirements according to The Environmental Protection Act and The Waste Management Act. Prosecutors also allege that certain Environment Ministry staff that were unwilling to comply with Zhivkov’s demands were forced out of their jobs and that the former head of the environmental inspectorate in Pleven was involved in the criminal activities

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment and Water: edno_gishe@moew.government.bg