Migrant crisis will lead to uniform EU rules: Renzi

ROME (Reuters) - The European Union migrant crisis will eventually push the 28-nation bloc to adopt uniform rules for refugees and end a patchwork of norms that have exacerbated the emergency, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have poured into Europe this year, many braving hazardous sea crossings in the hope of finding refuge -- at least 2,500 dying in the process.

Europe's disparate laws and confused approach to dealing with asylum seekers have drawn widespread criticism, with one senior official acknowledging this week that the bloc had failed in its collective response.

Italy, the point of entry for many of the migrants, has repeatedly complained of not receiving enough support from its EU partners in dealing with influx, but Renzi told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that change was coming.

"It will take months, but we will have a single European policy on asylum, not as many policies as there are (EU) countries," he said, adding that the rising death toll among refugees was pushing EU states to confront the problem.

Renzi said the EU needed to be more present in Africa and the Middle East to try to improve living conditions there and discourage migration. It also needed to make it easier to repatriate those not granted refugee status.

"This is the time to launch a political and diplomatic offensive," he said.

Asked whether it was also time to intervene in Syria and Libya -- two countries convulsed by wars that have fueled the migrant crisis, Renzi said U.S. President Barack Obama had called for a meeting of leaders next month on the sidelines of the U.N. general assembly to discuss the issue.

He gave no further details.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Mark Heinrich)