At a meeting in Brussels, ambassadors of EU governments gave a preliminary green light to the arms embargo and a ban on equipment used for repression, which will have to be formalised in the coming days.
They also asked EU experts to prepare plans for possible travel bans and asset freezes that could be imposed on the Syrian leadership.
"There was political agreement for an arms embargo," one EU diplomat said. "They also agreed to prepare for individual sanctions."
A spokesman for Hungary, which hold the bloc`s six-month rotating presidency, said preparations could move quickly.
"(EU governments) understood the grave situation in Syria. The presidency made it clear that as soon as we have a proposal on the table, we will start working on sanctions," he said.
Mass protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spread to the capital city of Damascus for the first time on Friday, and a Syrian human rights group said at least 48 civilians were killed in the day`s pro-democracy demonstrations. (*)