Today the modern Silk Road between Asia and Europe is increasingly well-travelled in both directions by students, academics and policy makers. Over the last decade the European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been making more attempts to shape this route by creating an educational partnership through an inter-regional forum for regional cooperation and policy development: the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM). Beside economic and diplomatic relations, education has been receiving increasing attention since the 2000s and has become an important and strategic act of cooperation by ASEM education ministers. Higher education and lifelong learning are the main topics for the multi-level dialogues and exchanges of ideas between the two regions. This paper describes the emergence of this new inter-regional educational phenomenon and examines its characteristics by analysing the case of the 10-year-old ASEM Lifelong Learning Initiative. Furthermore, the paper argues that ASEM education cooperation carries characteristics of a cultural and associational process, an agenda-setting process, a policy transfer process, an instrument for intra-regional integration and building regional identity.