This article assesses the role of administrative capacity in explaining the performance of eight Central and Eastern European countries in managing Cohesion policy over the 2004–2008 period. Drawing on a conceptual framework from the Europeanization literature, it explores whether pre-accession administrative adjustment to comply with the “acquis” continued in the post-accession period, against a backdrop of critical assessments about the state of administrative capacity for managing Cohesion policy. We conclude that administrative capacity was developed faster and more substantially than commentators predicted. The findings have implications for our understanding of the post-accession compliance record of the EU8, challenging the contention that they fall within a “world of dead letters”. Administrative capacity has been underestimated and insufficient attention has been given to the dynamics of capacity evolution and learning.