Italy is urging reluctant European Union partners to sign up to a plan to share 40,000 refugees, as French police forcibly removed migrants trying to cross their common border.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano called Tuesday for solidarity with front-line countries Italy and Greece as tens of thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean in search of sanctuary in the EU.

He says that Italy is "working to avoid the political bankruptcy of Europe."

Alfano met with fellow EU interior ministers in Luxembourg to debate a plan for obligatory relocation of Syrian and Eritrean refugees to other European countries over the next two years.

Only about 10 of the EU's 28 nations support the plan and even those that do disagree with the calculations for distributing the refugees.