Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI)

Andżelika Mirska, University of Warsaw

Relevance of the Practice

Poland faces a serious problem which is enormous cost of uncontrolled urbanization of suburban areas (effects of a bad law on spatial planning and development), which makes it necessary to invest in spatial development, infrastructure and public transport. These investments should often be carried out by neighboring local governments. Often there are insufficient financial resources and no willingness to cooperate between local governments.

The latest instrument to help solve this problem is Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI). ITIs appeared for the first time in draft EU regulations on European funds for the years 2014-2020. In order to increase the involvement of cities in the implementation of cohesion policy, the European Commission has committed the Member States of the European Union to devote a minimum of 5 per cent of the resources allocated to them under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to measures to address the economic, environmental, climate, demographic and social challenges faced by urban areas. ITI allows cities and areas functionally connected with them (across city administrative borders) to implement joint ventures combining activities financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund.

The key objectives of ITI include:

  • promoting a partnership model of cooperation between different administrative units in urban functional areas;
  • increasing the effectiveness of the interventions undertaken through the implementation of integrated projects addressing in a comprehensive manner the needs and problems of cities and their functionally related areas.[1]

Description of the Practice

ITIs are the result of a new approach to development planning which involves departure from perceiving the areas only in terms of administrative borders that separate them.

Pursuant to Poland’s agreement with the EU, the ITI is implemented obligatorily in the 16 largest cities (voivodeships’ capitals and their functional areas). Optionally, they may be implemented in other regional/sub-regional cities and their functional areas. In total, ITIs are implemented in Poland in 24 functional areas of cities.

The ITI primarily supports projects in the field of:

  • sustainable development, efficient transport connecting the city and its functional area;
  • restoring the socio-economic functions of degraded areas of an urban functional area;
  • improvement of the natural environment in the functional area of the city;
  • support energy efficiency and promote low-carbon strategies;
  • stimulating the development of symbolic functions building the international character and supra-regional rank of the urban functional area and improving access and quality of public services in the whole functional area;
  • extending research, enhancing technological development and innovation.

Assessment of the Practice

The implementation of the ITI is a new undertaking of Polish local government. This is certainly an answer to the problems arising from the bottom-up metropolitan processes. The main challenge is to encourage local governments to cooperate in order to jointly perform public tasks. Financial incentives are intended to encourage partnership and cooperation. The creation of areas where ITIs are implemented has been preceded by lively social discussions and research by professionals. Institutionalization and defining the rules of cooperation and co-financing was a great challenge for local governments. Joint projects and investments are currently under way. This provides new and extensive research material. It will certainly be a determinant of further actions of local governments in metropolitan areas. The practice of local governments will show which actions have contributed to the improvement of the situation of cities and their functional areas.

The first studies indicate that ITIs are a modern and properly utilized instrument facilitating cooperation between local governments, co-financed by the European Union. Effects of ITIs implementation may be observed is the metropolitan area of the Capital City of Warsaw which includes Warsaw and 39 functionally connected gminas.

The ‘Warsaw Functional Area for ITI’ consists of one city with county rights (the Capital City of Warsaw), 14 urban communes, 12 urban-rural communes and 13 rural communes. Administratively, these communes belong to 10 counties. It concentrates over half of the voivodeship’s residents (50.5 per cent) despite the fact that this area covers a relatively small part of the Mazowieckie voivodship (8.3 per cent). Due to the specificity of the area, especially the number and size of settlement centers, the urbanization rate for the ‘Warsaw Functional Area for ITI’ (87.5 per cent) is significantly higher than the value for the Mazowieckie Voivodeship (64.2 per cent), as well as the entire territory of Poland (60, 6 per cent). Moreover, the ‘Warsaw Functional Area for ITI’ is the most densely populated area of the voivodeship (912 people / km2). This value is over six times higher than in the entire Mazowieckie Voivodeship case (149 people / km2).

Contracts were signed for 115 projects for the grant amount of PLN 606.5 million. What is more, they will be implemented individually by communes in partnership with communes around Warsaw, in partnership with Warsaw, as well as by non-governmental organizations operating in the metropolitan area and private entrepreneurs. Everything is connected with the partnership resulting from the 40 communes’ agreement signed in February 2014 and the joint ITI investment strategy.

The projects concern both the problems of rural areas (e.g. educational programs for rural schools in the commune to provide equal educational opportunities for children) and the metropolitan problems (the provision of childcare facilities for children in nurseries in one of the districts of Warsaw with the highest birth rate[2]). There are also projects implemented jointly by several municipalities, such as the construction of bicycle paths connecting 6 communes. Projects with impact on all local governments i.e. in the field of e-services are also distinguished. For instance, the project entitled ‘Construction and implementation of an integrated support system for care services in the Warsaw Functional Area (E-Care)’.[3]

References to Scientific and Non-Scientific Publications

—— ‘ITI in Poland. The Concept’ (Metropolia Warszawska) <>

Chełchowska A and others, ‘Financial Economy of Local Government units 2017’ (Statistics Poland 2018) <,2,14.html>

Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Monitoring Committee), ‘Local and Regional Democracy in Poland’ (Report CG36(2019)13 final, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities 2019) <>

Kociuba D, ‘Implementation of Integrated Territorial Investments in Poland – Rationale, Results, and Recommendations’ (2018) 37 Quaestiones Geographicae 81

Nam CW and Parsche R, ‘Municipal Finance in Poland, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Hungary: Institutional Framework and Recent Development’ (2001) 11 MOST: Economic Policy in Transitional Economies 143 <>

Wysogląd M, ‘Integrated Territorial Investments as a New form of Management and Implementation of EU Funds in Poland’ (2018) 6 Central and Eastern European Journal of Management and Economics 85

[1] ‘Zintegrowane Inwestycje Terytorialne’ (Portal Funduszy Europejskich, 11 May 2016)      <> accessed 14 November 2019.

[2] Statistics of Warsaw, ‘Population Figure Monitoring 2015’ (Urząd Statystyczny

w Warszawie, 2015) <> .

[3] ‘ZIT metropolii warszawskiej’ (Metropolia Warszawska) <>.