It is now widely accepted that the interaction between the EU and its Member States is a two-way process: European governments are not simply confronted with initiatives that emanate from Brussels, but are actively involved in their formulation. Therefore, when analysing policies that are promoted at the European level – such as policies aimed at activating unemployed people to return to work – the development of these policies should not be analysed at only the national level. This paper examines the Netherlands’ shaping of activation ideas and policies (‘uploading’ them to the EU) and its taking up of such ideas or policies (‘downloading’ them from the EU, or implementing them). Our research specifically aimed at establishing whether the Dutch have tried to upload ideas, interests or institutions to the EU agenda, and to what extent the policies originating from the EU have been implemented in the Netherlands. To this end, we analysed national documents and the literature, and conducted interviews with the key policy makers involved in the creation of employment policies at both the national and the EU level. Although we found that the Dutch have been rather successful in uploading some ideas to the European agenda – namely, the promotion of social policy as a productive factor for economic policy and the ‘active and preventive’ approach for the unemployed – we could not find evidence of the uploading of particular policies or policy instruments. The policies established at the EU level have been reasonably well transposed to Dutch politics.