EU foreign ministers on Monday decided against lifting a ban on shipping weapons to the Syrian opposition.
Britain has been leading the charge to ease the arms embargo on anti-Assad fighters, but fellow EU members were worried the shipments could fall into the wrong hands.
Instead, existing sanctions against Syria were renewed.
“Today we also agreed to extend the sanctions against Syria for a further three months,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“We are amending them so as to enable greater non lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians.”
The issue of arming the Syrian opposition will be discussed again at the end of that three-month period.
UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had been set to attend the meeting, but he pulled out as his efforts to broker an end to the conflict intensify.
Euronews’ Andrei Beketov said that ministers also tweaked sanctions against Zimbabwe and North Korea.
“These foreign actions don’t cost very much. It seems that European Union, preoccupied with it’s own financial crisis, doesn’t use a powerful lever to influence global events,” he said.