For almost a decade, the European Council has been monitoring developments in the Syria crisis, as shown in Figure 6. Between March 2011 and February 2013, Syria was a permanent feature on the meeting agendas of EU leaders, who called repeatedly for a regime change. This phase of active monitoring was followed by two years (March 2013 to April 2015) during which the crisis in Syria was monitored at the level of the Foreign Affairs Council, with the European Council intervening sporadically. Emphasis was placed on the renewal of sanctions and the disbursement of humanitarian aid.
The outbreak of the migration crisis in April 2015 meant that the European Council again entered into an active monitoring phase, during which the EU leaders devoted most of their attention to the humanitarian situation in Aleppo; this lasted until December 2016. The period between April 2015 and December 2016 was also characterised by intense diplomatic activity, with the EU energetically supporting an UN-brokered political solution in line with the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. In several of its resolutions, the European Parliament called for the cessation of hostilities and urged negotiating parties to ‘intensify work for a lasting political settlement in Syria’.