Environment

State of compliance

North Macedonia has not transposed the amending Directive 2014/52/EU. The screening process of projects subject to Annex II of the EIA Directive and in particular the screening of small hydropower projects remains a challenge. The potential cumulative impact is not systematically considered in the screening procedures. In the reporting period, 14 hydropower projects were subject to EIA screening and in all cases it was concluded that an EIA is not needed.

The national provisions concerning the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) are compliant with the SEA Directive. The preparation of SEAs should be synchronized with the preparation of plans or programmes in order to ensure early integration of the environmental considerations into those documents when all options are open. The SEA report for the National Energy and Climate Plan should be further improved in order to reflect the environmental impacts of the RES development projects. Particular attention should be given to cumulative impact of the hydropower development. The Directive on the sulphur content of liquid fuels is transposed and properly implemented.

The overdue integrated permit for TPP Bitola, which would serve as the main implementation tool for the National Emission Reduction Plan (NERP) of the Contracting Party, is still not adopted. In July 2021, North Macedonia announced that it will close all of its coal-fired thermal power plants by the end of 2027, making it highly unlikely that investments into emissions abatement will be carried out. North Macedonia complied with its emission reporting obligations for the reporting year 2020. Emissions data still show significant non-compliance with the ceilings for sulphur dioxide and dust. The Secretariat opened dispute settlement procedures in March 2021. In terms of the absolute amount of emissions, a slight decrease was recorded compared to 2019 levels for dust, while sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions decreased more significantly. 

The country designated its fourth national park “Shar planina” as an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category II protected area and the protected landscape “Osogovo” as an IUCN category V protected area. Cross-border cooperation with Kosovo* concerning the Shar mountain to secure proper and effective measures in line with the Wild Birds Directive would be important. North Macedonia also designated its third wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention (Lake Ohrid), but a proper management plan for the lake is still missing. In the reporting period, the Valley of Dlaboka River located in National Park Mavrovo was designated as a UNESCO natural heritage site. However, the protection of the rivers in the park is still not ensured given existing plans for hydropower development.