Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) were expected to benefit substantially from European Union (EU) membership. As full members, they would take advantage of formal decision-making powers. Furthermore, EU instruments and norms would influence distributional issues and the com-mon market would facilitate economic convergence. However, these positive expectations, which are underpinned by rational institutional and normative theories of enlargement, have become chal-lenged by the effects of the 2004 and 2007 enlargement rounds. Therefore, drawing on the liberal intergovernmental approach (LIG), the article proposes to test an alternative explanation. First, it is proposed that EU decision-making powers are constrained by other powers possessed by the national governments. Second, the distributional issues are determined by individual interests and relative power (dependence). Third, economic convergence depends on the ability of individual governments to influence economic processes. The meta-study of post-accession Council decision-making, as well as case studies of some of the central distributional issues from the pre- and post-accession periods, and macroeconomic trends support the proposed LIG-based explanation.