ABSTRACT There is a large literature on Member State influence in the European Union, typically focusing on a combination of preferences of the Member States and their strategies with an emphasis on Council negotiations. However, prior to Council negotiations Member States also seek to influence the Commission’s development of legislative proposals. This paper argues that Member States need scientific expertise, experiential knowledge and target group support to make this strategy work and that the availability of these resources is partly shaped by domestic institutions, such as the territorial organization of the state, the recruitment principles of governmental departments, and the structure of government’s relationship with business groups and societal interests. As a plausibility probe for our argument we have conducted a case study of the Dutch government’s strategy regarding the REACH Regulation. KEY WORDS Chemicals policy; European Commission; expertise; lobbying; Member States; the Netherlands.