Why, following the EU’s first attempts at advancing community cooperation in civil protection and the creation of the EU civil protection mechanism, has ASEAN undertaken new initiatives, such as the adoption of a legally binding accord, AADMER and a formal institution, the AHA Center, largely comparable to the institutional innovations endorsed by the EU, in the same issue area? Can these developments be interpreted simply as the result of independent decision-making by ASEAN or are they at least a partial outcome of a transfer process? The aim of this study is to contribute to the emerging debate on European influence in Southeast Asia, taking into account how processes of policy and institutional transfer may lead ASEAN’s region builders to learn from the EU’s experience. Specifically, by discussing the case of disaster management, which has remained largely unexplored by comparative IR literature, this study argues that independent problem solving does not offer an adequate explanation of ASEAN’s developments. Conversely, lesson drawing and emulation are suggested as the two most relevant underlying mechanisms which can explain the gradual and selective adoption of an EU-like model of disaster cooperation.