This week Europe will hold a conference on the future of Syria. The EU is the largest humanitarian donor for Syria, but has become marginalised in political negotiations. By initiating this conference, the EU illustrates its readiness to take up a significant part of Syria’s reconstruction. But jumpstarting a large-scale reconstruction programme without a mutually consented political solution under UN auspices could become an implicit endorsement of Assad’s control over Syria, and hence a betrayal to the aspirations of large parts of Syria’s civil society. The EU should now leverage its role as the largest financial donor, to demand a say in any negotiations on the political transition and future of Syria.