By looking at the policy termination of state aid to ship builders in Amsterdam, this article illustrates how a major policy paradigm shift within recent history, and the change from Keynesian to neoliberal policies, can be explained. The article is informed by a multi-level governance approach to analyse policy change and is based on different types of sources. It presents an in-depth case study of the closing of the Amsterdam shipyards and analyses the role of policy change at different governance-levels (i.e. the city government, national Parliament, national government and the European Commission). In doing so, we are able to illustrate how new actors – in this case the European Commission and the Commissioner for Competition – were able to terminate long existing policies of state aid to shipbuilders, under the label of improving competition and the free market, at the start of the 1980s.