The article attempts to explain the expansion of the European Community (EC) policy agenda to new policy areas such as the environment, regional development and research and technological development, and the variations in policy development from one area to another. Lowi's classification of policy types-regulatory, redistributive and distributive-is adapted for use in the EC context. Each policy type, it is argued, deals with a distinct arena featuring different actors, different institutional decision rules, and different types of Council bargaining, and each therefore corresponds to a distinctive pattern of task expansion. Thus, regulatory policies can be explained in terms of functional spillover from the Internal Market, while redistributive policies can be understood as side-payments in larger intergovernmental bargains, and distributive policies are the result of the Commission's policy entrepreneurship and log-rolling Council bargaining. These three patterns of task expansion are examined in an empirical study of policy development across six areas.