North Macedonia

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in North Macedonia

Article 43 of North Macedonia’s constitution reads: “Everyone has the right to a healthy environment to live in. Everyone is obliged to promote and protect the environment. The Republic provides conditions for the exercise of the right of citizens to a healthy environment.”

An amendment was made to ensure that in units of local self-government, “citizens directly and through representatives participate in decision- making on issues of local relevance particularly in the fields of public services, urban and rural planning, environmental protection, local economic development, local finances, communal activities, culture, sport, social security and child care, education, health care and other fields determined by law.”

Featured Legislation

1996: The Act on Environment and Nature Protection and Promotion was signed. This Act specifies the rights and responsibilities of the Republic of Macedonia, legal entities and persons, in the providing of prerequisites for environment and nature protection and promotion, with the purpose of implementing the right of citizens to healthy environment.

2000: The Regulation on designating border posts for import, export and transit of plants, plant products and plant protection products was created. This Regulation hereby defines the official border posts for import, export and transit of plants, plant products and plant protection products (on the territory of the republic of Macedonia) and with the scope of offering plant protection and plant health control issues.

2004: The Law on Nature Protection was approved. This Law makes provision on nature protection, which is considered to be an activity of public interest (art. 2). The Law regulates the protection of biological diversity and landscape diversity, which shall be carried out particularly by the following: (1) determination of the components of biological and landscape diversity and the extent to which they are endangered; (2) spatial planning and organization; (3) and monitoring and reporting on the state of nature.

2004: The Law on Waste Management was ratified, establishing the legislative framework on waste management. The Law makes provision on waste management plans and sets out the rights and obligations of individuals and legal entities as regards waste management. Moreover, it establishes the rules which shall govern the collection, treatment, transport, processing, storage, disposal, importation and exportation of waste.

2007:The Law on Forest Tree Species Reproductive Material was created. This Law hereby prescribes the basic rules aimed to govern the correct and controlled, safe and monitored (also inspection provisions) use, recognition, production and trade as regards the forest tree species (forest and decorative tree species) reproductive materials (seeds, seedlings and other) on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.

2008: The Law on Plant Protection Products was enacted. This Law prescribes all necessary standards and rules governing the: authorization, placing on the market, use and control of plant protection products; placing on the market and control of active substances; maximum residue levels; equipment for use of products; and exchange of information related to products, production of products, register of legal and civil entities involved in production and placing of products on the Macedonian market.

2008: The Law on Forestry and Hunting Inspection was adopted. This Law defines the necessary principles of inspection supervision, competencies and administrative rules and issues, organization, rights and duties of inspectors, procedures of inspection control and various other related matters as regards the forestry and hunting inspection services and tasks on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia (part of the State Inspectorate for Forestry and Hunting).

2009: The Law on Organic Farming was passed, regulating the production, preparation, processing, finishing, storage, transport, distribution, advertising, marketing, labeling and control of organic products (produced as organic products on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia).

2012: The Macedonian Water Strategy was unveiled. The Water Strategy of the Republic of North Macedonia sets out how the water sector should look like by the year 2040, and some of the steps it will need to take to get there. It is a vision where rivers, canals and lakes have improved for people and ecosystems, and where it continues to provide excellent quality of drinking water. It is a vision of a sector that values and protects its water resources and where flood and drought risks are addressed with markedly greater understanding and use of good surface water. Water management and the field of water policy are regulated in European and Macedonian legislation. This text highlights that the most important part of legislation of the Republic of Macedonia in the field of water management is already established, among all necessary water management principles. Water is vital for our health and wellbeing, and for agriculture (also livestock breeding), fisheries, industry, and transportation. Healthy water resources are necessary for a high-quality natural environment. Water strategy resumes facts from the field of water legal and institutional framework. It comprehends conclusions on state of water with separately investigated general river basin characteristics, state of water use, state of river training and protection against harmful effects of water and state of water protection. Ascertainment on the state of water is the starting point for defining water management objectives and consequently programmes of measures that are upgraded with economical issues. These segments are summarized in the water vision for the future that does not care only of the state or government but cares for every individual that creates our common living space. In this Strategy, the European legal framework is given in two parts, in the first part the general legal framework is given for water management. In the second part the main specific directives are briefly described for water use, surface water management and water protection. The purpose of water protection is the preservation of human health and the environment, which includes achieving and preserving a good water state, preventing water pollution, preventing hydromorphological changes and rehabilitation of water status where it is devastated. Objectives of water protection in the Republic of Macedonia comprises: protection of surface and groundwater as a drinking water reserve (existing and planned reserves); protection of protected and other areas of importance, related to water areas – areas of special protection of waters, areas for preservation of human health and the preservation of water and water-dependent ecosystems and preserving of biodiversity in the frame of integrated water management; improvement of ecological functions of waters where the water quality is deteriorated and where required water quality is not achieved, with integrated water management and gradual implementation of comprehensive measures for water protection and systematic monitoring of effects of measures implemented in the river basin; reduction of the quantity of dangerous substances at source of pollution with implementation of water protection measures; contribution to sustainable water management with rational and sustainable use of water resources.

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

  • A 2021 report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) concludes that schools, hospitals, and government bodies across North Macedonia have been burning dirty oil in their heating systems, evading government authorities. Experts state that increasing amounts of dirty fuel from the European Union are ending up in the Western Balkans as a result of weak regulations and poor enforcement. On any given day, clouds of thick, black smoke pour over the cities of North Macedonia, heightening levels of acrid mixtures of car fumes and smoke. In 2018: The UN Environment Programme named Skopje Europe’s most polluted capital, citing data from the World Health Organization. Eli Pesheva, co-founder of an environmental group called O2 Initiative, said her organization has started to foster environmental justice movements in the region, working alongside OCCRP, the Investigative Reporting Lab (IRL), and An investigation has revealed that Evrotim, a North Macedonian company, has made millions of euros from dirty oil; what is more, Evrotim has close ties with politicians, winning two coveted contracts in 2018 to supply dirty oil to various organizations. It was not until December 2018 that Evrotim’s imports first came to the attention of North Macedonia’s State Market Inspectorate, which is tasked with inspecting oil and oil derivatives before they enter the market.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning: