"We both believe that in exceptional circumstances there should be variations to the Schengen treaty on which we have decided to work together," Berlusconi said, echoing comments by Sarkozy at a joint news conference after a summit in Rome.
Berlusconi and Sarkozy said they have signed a letter to be sent to European Commission, the EU's executive body to propose changes to the treaty allowing individual states to temporarily suspend the free movement of people under certain circumstances.
Italy's decision to grant around 20,000 Tunisian migrants temporary visas allowing them to travel within the Schengen area sparked an outcry from Paris that its southern neighbour was not respecting the spirit of the agreement.
France last week temporarily halted trains carrying migrants over the boarder from Italy to France.
Tens-of-thousands of mostly Tunisians arrived on the southern Italy island of Lampedusa since January when an uprising toppled that country's authoritarian government. Migrants boats have also set sail from Libya.
"We want the Schengen treaty to live, but to live it has to be changed," Sarkozy said.