Newspaper headlines: The battle of Brussels - and on the rails

There's a Battle of Brussels brewing, according to the Daily Express, and many other papers reflect on the new government's struggles ahead over the issue of EU reform.

David Cameron "will use a crunch summit next month to spell out his plans for Britain to have much looser ties with the EU," the paper explains.

Image caption David Cameron is preparing himself for a tussle in Brussels

"The Prime Minister has already begun a six-week blitz to shore up support for renegotiations, speaking to key EU figures immediately after last week's historic election victory," it adds.

The Express's leader column says "at the very least" Mr Cameron must "win back our right to control our own borders"; achieve a net reduction in contributions and secure a UK parliamentary veto over EU laws.

The front page of the Financial Times suggests the PM may have quite a battle ahead.

It quotes the German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble as saying any "reopening" of the treaties governing the EU would "not occur for some time".

He tells the paper that while Germany agrees that treaty changes are required within the community it is not "certain that this can be achieved quickly".

The Daily Mail says Mr Cameron will demand "sweeping changes" to European legislation, at the meeting in Brussels next month.

A "red-line issue" is a proposal to ban migrants from claiming any benefits in the UK for the first four years of their residency.

But before the summit showdown, one issue is already causing conflict between the Conservative government and the European Commission - Mediterranean migrant boats.

Image caption Britain accepted 14,065 asylum seekers last year

The EU wants Britain to be part of a programme to disperse the African and Asian migrants around the community, the Times explains, but Home Secretary Theresa May says such a move would simply encourage more people to risk the hazardous sea crossing.

Currently, Britain takes fewer asylum seekers than other similarly sized European nations.

Mrs May argues in a column in the paper that the EU should "tackle the problem at its source" by trying to encourage refugees to "return to their country of origin" or by helping them to "build a better life in other countries rather than trying to make the hazardous journey to Europe".

The Times' European correspondent Bruno Waterfield says if Britain opts out of centrally-set migrant quotas it could find itself with more refugees, but with nowhere to return them.

Under the present system, he adds, 13,000 asylum seekers have been returned from the UK to the countries where they first entered Europe.


Voting test

The prospect of the first national rail strike for 20 years interests the papers, as does the government's proposed legislation intended to limit strikes in the public sector.

The Daily Telegraph says millions of commuters will "face chaos" if Network Rail staff carry out their threat to walk out.

The RMT union said its members at the organisation were angered by a £500-per-head annual pay offer.

Image caption Britain's stations last ground to a standstill in 1995

The strike ballot - which saw 80% approve industrial action and a 60% turnout - makes the stoppage legal, even under the Tories' proposed tightening of strike laws, the paper adds.

The Guardian reports that Network Rail says its pay offer "should be considered in the context of recent pay rises it has given rail staff since 2011, exceeding the average awarded in other sectors".

It notes that a second rail union, the TSSA, has balloted members over a strike. The result will be announced on Friday.

The paper's cartoonist, Steve Bell, comments on the government's new union legislation by picturing David Cameron and business secretary Sajid Javid as a cross between Humpty Dumpty and Marx and Engels.

Beneath them is written the slogan, "workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your rights!"/

The Daily Mail says the measures Mr Javid is spearheading will "prevent unions holding Britain to ransom".

The new laws - to be set out in the Queen's Speech - mean successful strike ballots must be approved by at least 40% of eligible staff on a turnout of at least 50%.

The Mail says "union barons say the rules... will make walkouts virtually impossible and have vowed to organise illegally if necessary".

The Daily Mirror says the legislation promises to take Britain "back to the 80s".

The paper's leader column accuses Mr Javid of hypocrisy - imposing a voting test on trade unions "that he and the Tory government have already failed".


Eye-catching headlines

"Ex-England star tackles RSPB to save the pigeon" - The Times reports on former England midfielder Gerry Francis's campaign to allow pigeon fanciers to trap sparrowhawks. Mr Francis, a keen fancier, says he has lost hundreds of birds to the raptors.

"Wearing a red tie sends out a signal of anger and dominance" - The Independent is among the papers reporting research from Durham University linking red clothing to a perception of aggression. The paper ponders whether Ed Miliband's red ties were a turn-off for the electorate.

"Smelly kettle syndrome" - The Daily Mail reports that testers at consumer watchdogs Which? have reported being inundated with complaints that some plastic kettles are making boiled water smell and "tea taste funny". Experts are baffled.


An imbalance

The Daily Telegraph's lead story is about a report which claims the NHS may be giving patients unnecessary tests and treatments.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) is launching a campaign to highlight what it says is "over-diagnosis".

The paper explains that the AMRC complains that "GPs and hospitals are paid for the quantity not quality of their treatment".

It adds: "The senior doctors said it was time to "wind back the harms of too much medicine" and replace a culture of "more is better" with balanced decision-making."

Image caption Many patients treated for asthma do not have the condition, campaigners argue

The paper says patients should be encouraged to question whether treatments were strictly necessary, and "what would happen if I do nothing".

The paper notes the warning comes at the same time as Danish research suggests the long-term risks of anti-depressant drugs outweigh their benefits.

Prof Peter Gotzsche says drugs given to patients with depression, attention deficit and dementia were responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people a year.

The Independent lists some of the treatments that British doctors are being urged to think about before prescribing for patients.

They include antibiotics for chest infections where a virus is the likely cause; chest X-rays and electrocardiograms for patients at low risk of heart disease and CT scans for minor injury cases in children.

The paper adds that the campaigners say that 30% of people diagnosed with asthma are unlikely to actually have the condition.

AMRC clinical director Dr Aseem Malhotra tells the paper: "We have an imbalance. An overmedicated population with unhealthy lifestyles.

"Unless we deal with it now the NHS will go bankrupt - there's no doubt about it."

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