European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, during a state of the EU address, said the European community must stand for freedom, democracy, rule of law and solidarity.
More than ever, he said, a "new world order" needs an active and engaged Europe. Human rights and European values are principles that extend beyond the borders of the European Union.
"The appalling situation in Syria reminds us that we cannot afford to be bystanders," he said. "A new and democratic Syria must emerge."
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata last week said the escalating violence in Syria suggests the crisis has taken a turn for the worse. EU members, he said, need to concentrate on stopping the bloodshed in Syria to preserve the stability of neighboring countries.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the longer it takes to find a political solution to the crisis, the more difficult long-term reconstruction will become.
The situation in Syria "has taken a particularly brutal turn," he said.