Since the crisis first erupted almost two years ago, the EU has been prompt in adopting a wide range of restrictive measures targeted against the Assad regime and its supporters to compel them to stop their brutal crackdown and engage in an inclusive process of national dialogue aiming for transition and reform within Syria. EU sanctions include a series of individual listings as well as restrictions on goods and services, including an oil and arms embargo. The Foreign Affairs Council at the end of November renewed the EU sanctions package for a period of three months, allowing a comprehensive review of all applicable sanctions and restrictive measures to take place before they expire at the end of February. The Foreign Affairs Council on 18 February devoted considerable attention to reviewing the existing sanctions regime and assessing how to further apply pressure against the Syrian authorities given their continuous campaign of repression and violence. Along with my European colleagues, we had a thorough and comprehensive discussion on the range of options available and how EU sanctions can be used to best effect to further the prospects for a political resolution of the conflict. I welcome the fact that the Council was able to agree on renewing the full range of existing sanctions for a further period of three months. The Council also agreed an amendment to the sanctions regime to allow for the provision of non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians.