The European Union must introduce a new, automatic system of taking in migrants saved from the Mediterranean, the leaders of Italy and France said as they sought to patch up bruised bilateral relations.
Italy has long complained that it has been left alone to deal with the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have crossed the sea in recent years looking for a better life in Europe.
The issue has caused particular tensions between Rome and Paris, but French President Emmanuel Macron has leapt on the fact that a new, pro-European government has taken office in Italy to try to reset ties and resolve this long-standing row.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, speaking alongside Macron, said he had received French backing for a system to handle the redistribution of migrants, meaning that Italy could rely on the entire 28-nation bloc to accept automatically a share of all the new arrivals as soon as they were rescued.
Macron, speaking through an interpreter, said EU countries that refused to take part in the scheme should be “seriously penalised”. They did not provide further details, saying only that the issue would soon be discussed by EU interior ministers.