North Macedonia – annual report 2022

Dr Lovro Tomašić, Federal Chamber of Notaries and Metodija Ristoski, President of the Chamber of Notaries of North Macedonia answer questions from the media.
Dr Lovro Tomašić, Federal Chamber of Notaries and Metodija Ristoski, President of the Chamber of Notaries of North Macedonia answer questions from the media.

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The European Union officially opened accession negotiations with North Macedonia in July 2022 following the settlement of bilateral disputes between North Macedonia and Greece in 2018 and Bulgaria in 2022. The country has also been a NATO member since 2020.

New elections were held in July 2020 – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – which confirmed the reform government comprising the SDSM social democrats and parties representing Albanian minorities that has held power since 2017, albeit with losses. The largest opposition party took the biggest slice of the vote in the local elections in autumn 2021, while the social democratic party lost many municipalities. The incumbent SDSM prime minister resigned in response to the local election losses and a new government with the same group of parties was confirmed in early 2022.

Overall Concept

IRZ activities, which have been ongoing since 2000 within the framework of the Stabilitypact for Southeast Europe, have been continuously expanded since then. The IRZ partners in the projects implemented in North Macedonia with funds from the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal Foreign Office are the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors “Pavel Shatev”, the Government Agent for the European Court of Human Rights, the non-governmental organisation Institute for Democracy as well as academics from the Faculty of Law in Skopje. At local level, IRZ has also enlarged the target group for its activities in recent years and improved the sustainability of its work with legal publications in the local language. Aside from online formats, IRZ also organised hybrid and face-to-face events in 2022.

IRZ is prioritising the promotion of young legal professionals through measures that focus on judicial independence and effective trial management, as well as activities in the area of constitutional law and human rights.

Focus of Activity in 2022

Constitutional Law, Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Continued support for the Constitutional Court in its preparations to introduce a comprehensive constitutional complaint through expert opinions and online consultations
  • Regional forum on participatory rights – social and economic rights of refugees – with NGOs from North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia

Administration of Justice

  • Online and face-to-face training on the following topics with the ­Academy for Judges and Prosecutors “Pavel Shatev”:
    • Mediation, its promotion and significance in the acceleration of ­proceedings
    • Techniques for preparing judgements
    • Judicial and prosecutorial ethics
    • Preparing and conducting an oral hearing and promoting ­settlements – training based on the IRZ educational film.
  • Internal workshop and public panel discussion in hybrid format with the Federal Chamber of Notaries and the Chamber of Notaries of North Macedonia on the role of the notaries’ office in the prevention of ­money laundering and on counter-terrorism

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Legislative advice on reforming the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure in area of the confiscation of assets

Basic and Further Training

  • Online event for German-speaking young lawyers on the topic of basic and further training in law in Germany, held jointly with the Faculty of Law in Skopje

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project “Building of the Institutional Capacity of the Investigative Centres”

IRZ was in charge of the EU Twinning project to establish investigative centres in the public prosecutor’s offices of North Macedonia between May 2019 and February 2022. The Croatian Ministry of Justice is the junior partner in this project, which is endowed with a budget of €1 million and is scheduled to run for 24 months.

In line with current reform efforts by the government of North Macedonia, the project aimed to support national authorities in the fight against organised crime and corruption and to build their competencies through the establishment of joint investigation centres at the public prosecutor’s offices in Skopje, Kumanovo and Tetovo.

The key components in this context were improvement of organisation structures and workflows, further training for employees of the public prosecutor’s offices, police officers, customs officials and tax investigators and the establishment of inter-agency networks. Moreover, the project successfully sought to intensify cooperation between the agencies at national and international level (judicial assistance).

The IRZ expert team prepared analyses of the situation on the ground together with partners from North Macedonia and outlined the legal framework for the envisaged centres. Cooperation agreements were prepared with the relevant national authorities and ministries, and consultations were held on the staffing and technical equipment required for the investigative centres.

Included in the project was the organisation of numerous training courses on topics such as financial investigations, public procurement offences, asset seizure and witness protection – some of which were conducted online due to pandemic-related restrictions. The IRZ experts and their partners from North Macedonia showed remarkable flexibility and adaptability to hold these events together.

Study trips to Croatia were organised as well to share experience on ­proven methods and to strengthen the good international working ­relationships that emerged from the project work.

The success of the project, which achieved all of its defined targets and performance indicators in full, was celebrated at a closing event in February 2022. The positive cooperation between IRZ and the investigation ­centres also yielded sustainable working relationships between the German experts involved in the project and their Macedonian colleagues.

EU Twinning project “Support to the Implementation of the Modernised Data Protection Legal Framework”

The Twinning project on data protection in North Macedonia got under way in the first quarter of 2021, was implemented jointly with and under the auspices of the Croatian Personal Data Protection Agency (Agencija za zaštitu osobnih podataka, AZOP) and was brought to a successful conclusion in October 2022. The Personal Data Protection Agency of North Macedonia (PDPA) was the partner institution in this Twinning project.

The Twinning project focused on the objective of advancing protection of fundamental rights and the national system for the protection of personal data in the Republic of North Macedonia according to the standards of the European Union acquis communautaire. Within this framework, the aim was to improve the performance of the Macedonian data protection agency in the implementation of a modernised data protection framework by strengthening institutional and staff capacities, by building on the legal and regulatory framework and by raising public awareness for data protection.

The project consisted of the following three components:

In component 1 – which was conducted under the leadership of IRZ – the experts prepared guidelines for implementation of the new Data Protection Act, standard operating procedures for PDPA staff and a methodology for harmonisation of sectoral regulations. German colleagues from the Federal Ministry of Justice and other relevant ministries, from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and from the State Offices for Data Protection in Saxony, Thuringia and Hamburg contributed to the successful implementation of this component.

Component 2 – also completed under the auspices of IRZ – involved the identification of training requirements for PDPA staff and for staff from relevant state institutions. It included additionally the development of a modular training and workshop concept, a training programme and training materials for various modules and topics, as well as the organisation of training courses and workshops on the key areas of data protection. German colleagues from the Federal Ministry of Justice and other relevant ministries, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information and the State Commissioners for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Berlin and Hamburg held the very successful training courses and workshops in 2022.

Component 3 – under the leadership of AZOP – dealt with public relations. Supported by a German expert from the ITZ-Bund – the Federal Information Technology Centre – IRZ contributed to the redesign and improvement of the PDPA website.

The final conference of the Twinning project was held in Skopje in October 2022, during which the project partner and the European Union delegation stressed once again the successful and sustainable implementation of the envisaged goals.

The team of data protection experts deployed by IRZ contributed to the success of all three project components.


IRZ will continue to conduct basic and further training measures for legal staff and young lawyers in 2023 as a means of improving quality in the application of the law. Cooperation with the Constitutional Court will also be expanded to promote the creation of a Constitutional Court Act and the introduction of a constitutional complaint.

Please find the Annual Report 2022 here: Media centre – Annual reports.