EU countries would face international refugee quotas under proposals to be unveiled this week.
The suggestions are being put forward amid outcry over the number of migrants losing their lives as they try to cross the Mediterranean.
Nearly half of all asylum seekers in the European Union are currently accepted by Italy, Austria, Germany and Sweden.
The Brussels blueprint, drawn up in response to the deadly people trafficking from Libya which has seen hundreds drown off the coast of Italy, would impose a quota based on economic and social factors.
Emergency mechanisms would be invoked by the end of the month to oblige the 28 member states to make a “fair and balanced contribution” to taking in “persons in clear need of international protection”, it was reported.
A longer-term plan for “a mandatory and automatically-triggered relocation system” would allocate numbers based on GDP, population, unemployment and previous rates of taking in asylum seekers, it said.
Germany, which had more than 200,000 applicants last year, supports the changes.
It comes with the United Nations expected later to examine a draft resolution authorising the use of military action against people smuggling networks operating from Libyan waters.
EU foreign and security policy co-ordinator Federica Mogherini will present the proposals, which are said to call for the “use of all means to destroy the business model of the traffickers”.
A number of EU member states are believed to be ready to contribute to the Italy-led mission, but it faces opposition from the Libyan authorities.