Italy has long complained that other EU member states have not shared the burden as hundreds of thousands of people arrived on its shores in recent years after making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

“The European Union hasn’t shown enough solidarity with countries handling first arrivals, notably Italy,” Macron said after talks with Conte in Rome.

“I am convinced that we can agree on an automatic redistribution mechanism.”

Conte heads a weeks-old pro-European government, formed after far-right leader Matteo Salvini brought down the previous one in a failed bid to become prime minister.

The new government, composed of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), has lifted hopes that Italy will soften its hardline immigration policy. 

During his 14 months as interior minister, Salvini closed off Italian ports to hmigrant rescue ships, leading to repeated standoffs with Brussels that were only resolved after several EU states accepted migrants on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis.

Conte said he had received French support for a system to redistribute migrants whereby the entire 28-nation bloc would automatically take a share of all the new arrivals in Italy as soon as they were rescued.

“Migration is a complex phenomenon. It’s vital for Europe to turn the page towards the structural, and no longer emergency, management of migrants,” Conte said.

“Migration must no longer be a theme of anti-European propaganda.”