The renewables transition influences interstate energy relations in many ways. The emergence of new energy-related patterns of cooperation depends on favourable political and economic circumstances. Within the multi-layered EU energy governance, innovative institutions evolved at the regional level. In 2005, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands formed the Pentalateral Forum (Penta Forum), joined by Austria and Switzerland in 2011 as full member and observer, respectively. In the process of establishing the Energy Union, which seeks to realise the single European energy market and the transition to a low-carbon energy system, the Penta Forum constitutes an intermediate step. The electricity sector is key to realising the Energy Union. This chapter examines how the cooperation between the members of the Penta Forum helps to achieve the integration of the European electricity market. It highlights two facets of the Penta Forum’s institutionalisation. First, as a form of differentiated integration in the context of EU policymaking the Penta Forum increases the member states’ room for manoeuvre within EU energy governance. Second, the design of the Penta Forum depoliticises the conversation about complex policy issues, which in turn is instrumental in limiting frictions among its members to practical issues.

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Keywords Differentiated integration, Electricity sector, EU energy transition, Pentalateral forum, Renewables
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Handke, S. (2018). Renewables and the core of the energy union: How the pentalateral forum facilitates the energy transition in Western Europe. In Daniel Scholten (ed.) The Geopolitics of Renewables (Lecture Notes in Energy ; 61) (pp. 277–303). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-67855-9_11