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The creation of a European Union-level regulatory regime for telecommunications and electricity was a highly successful political initiative of the European Commission. However, this article argues that the causal link between European initiatives and national policy change is weak. Building on an emerging tradition of cross-sector research of these two sectors, and considering two most similar European countries, the article applies a series of comparisons, including a stepwise comparative analysis of two countries (one a reluctant liberalizer, the other an enthusiastic one), of two sectors (a pacesetter and a footdragger), and of two time periods (before and after the regulatory reforms). We suggest that Spain and Portugal were able to shape their sectors according to the preferences of their national policy communities and in a context of a global shift in the way countries both within Europe and outside it defined their interests.