But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has conceded "no solution will be reached" on the overall migration issue at either summit.
Germany has accepted 1.6 million Syrians and other migrants since 2014.
Merkel instead advocated bilateral and trilateral deals to cope with migrants in Europe.
The comments came after Italy's new coalition of far-right and anti-establishment parties made clear it does not want to take in more migrants, and after several eastern European states said they would stay away from preliminary talks on the issue Sunday.
The contested joint declaration was drawn up ahead of a meeting of 10 European Union leaders set for Brussels on Sunday, with Germany and France hoping for a swift deal that could then be approved at a full European Union summit at the end of next week.
East EU states like Poland and Hungary refuse to host any of these people to alleviate the burden on their most affected peers.
About half of Germans support Merkel's policies: for her resignation in favor, 43 percent of respondents.
Merkel, after allowing more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015, has faced a strong domestic backlash that has now turned into a government crisis, just over 100 days into her fourth term.
With a populist backlash over her initial open-door policy toward asylum-seekers, Merkel emerged weakened in recent elections.
The rhetoric ahead of the Sunday summit extended north, with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz saying his country would reintroduce controls on its border with Italy if neighbouring Germany were to turn back migrants at its border to Austria.
Merkel also got Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to attend the mini-summit by telling him pre-written conclusions had been withdrawn, Italian officials said.
"The Chancellor clarified that there was a misunderstanding", Conte said, adding that Italy will make a proposal on tackling the migration problem at the meeting. The worldwide view is that it would not be safe for them to return yet.
"My response is that the interior minister recently presented statistics on crime and they speak for themselves", she said during a press conference after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.
But Bulgaria said it would argue at the weekend talks for the EU's external borders to be shut completely to migrants and centres for war refugees set up outside its territory.
European Union cooperation deals with Turkey and Libya, the main transit countries, have sharply cut, at least for now, the flow of migrants to Europe since 2015.
Failure to agree on how to deal with the challenge of migration threatens the EU's border-free travel area, one of the biggest accomplishments in the bloc's 60-year history.
Rounding out the 16 leaders, European Union officials said, are those from Austria, Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Croatia, Slovenia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Luxembourg.