The literature is now exploring the wider implications of the governance 'turn' in the European Union. This article develops this work by looking at the administrative demands associated with the use of 'new' (and principally network-based) instruments of governance. In the past, the main instrument used to integrate environmental concerns into other sectors was regulation. But in the 1990s, the Cardiff Process was established at EU level to promote a newer and more network-based approach to delivering this objective. Drawing upon an analysis of how well national administrative systems have responded to the demands associated with networks, it argues that both the 'old' and the 'new' instruments of governance are reliant on the presence of sufficient administrative capacities. It concludes that decision-makers in the EU have traded the 'old' governance of regulation for the 'new' governance of networks without sufficiently diagnosing the administrative demands associated with either.