The papers: EU negotiations and the Eurovision 'bearded lady'

In the run-up to next week's European elections all eyes are on matters EU, and the issue of immigration from Eastern Europe is examined by many of Monday's papers.

The Daily Telegraph headlines that David Cameron will not try to "put up barriers" to the movement of workers throughout the EU.

The paper says the prime minister is keen to point out that the current arrangement benefits Britons working in Europe, as well as migrant workers coming to the UK.

It says in setting out his stall before negotiations with the EU on Britain's terms of membership, he has put restrictions on EU immigrants rights to benefits at the top of his wants list.

In its leader column, the Telegraph welcomes Mr Cameron's stance but cautions that he must be "realistic and honest" with voters about his chances of success in Europe.

"Voters are fed up being promised reforms that can't be delivered," the paper adds.

"PM backs migrants" is how The Sun characterises Mr Cameron's stance.

Noting that a further 30,000 Romanians and Bulgarians are estimated to have arrived this year to join the 144,000 already resident, the paper quotes Tory backbencher David Davies.

The Monmouth MP said: "It doesn't make sense to bring people in to work when there are people here looking for jobs."

The Independent interviews Jean-Claude Juncker, the man many think Mr Cameron will be negotiating with if he is elected successor to outgoing European Jose Manuel Barroso as the head of the European Commission.

Mr Juncker tells the paper he was "a little surprised" by the debate in Britain on migrant workers.

But he added the EU had to "respect" the British desire to discuss whether some community functions "should be repatriated to national parliaments".

The Times charts the rise of eurosceptic parties across the EU, noting that they were expected to take 30% of the overall votes in the forthcoming elections, and increase their MEP numbers in various member states.

The paper says France's Francois Hollande and Germany's Angela Merkel used a European summit to restate their vision of a more unified Europe and launch a "final effort" to head off the eurosceptic parties' rise.

"Leaving Europe would mean leaving history," Mr Hollande is quoted as saying.

'Emotionally damaged'

The horrors of post-traumatic stress suffered by military personnel who have served in combat zones makes a lead story for The Guardian.

The paper says Combat Stress, a charity founded 95 years ago to help veterans deal with mental problems, has reported a 57% rise in people needing help in the last year.

The paper notes the charity is currently helping 5,400 ex-servicemen and women, the majority being veterans of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan conflict zones.

The Guardian adds that Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, who this year published an official review of services for veterans, said: "There is a widespread public perception that veterans are likely to be physically, mentally or emotionally damaged by their time in the Armed Forces.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Although the Iraq War ended in 2011, cases of post-traumatic stress linked to it are still being reported

"This in itself constitutes an unnecessary extra hurdle for service leavers, restricting their opportunities and lowering expectations of what they can do."

The Independent carries a two-page interview with General Sir Mike Jackson, the former chief of general staff, who is now president of the Army Benevolent Fund.

"There are those who become in need because of military service on behalf of the nation, and it's only right that the nation should fill that need," argues Sir Mike.

He tells the paper that he worries that the present high public perception of military charities will fade as the services are cut and current deployments ended.

The Daily Telegraph reports on research that could have major implications for veterans suffering from stress and others with recurring nightmares.

It says researchers in Germany have found that by applying a weak electric current to the brain of sleepers a state of "heightened awareness" can be induced.

This means, the paper adds, that the subject could recognise they were asleep and dreaming and "influence" the direction those dreams took.

A report in the Daily Mail suggests that women may benefit most from measures to lower stress.

It quotes a survey for a mental health charity which suggests that 22% of women "are anxious most of the time".

The Mail suggests the disparity with men (of whom 15% felt anxious) might be down to women's tendency to handle family finances and shoulder most of the burdens of caring for others.

Onerous

The political spat between the Liberal Democrats and their coalition partners the Conservative Party, over the free schools policy is still making headlines.

The Guardian reports that Lib Dem Treasury secretary Danny Alexander has demanded a cap on spending on free schools after the finding of an "£800m black hole" in the budget for the programme.

A government source tells the paper that Treasury officials also shared Mr Alexander's concern and the department won't sign off any new spending on free school projects "until the capital budget... is back under control."

The Daily Mirror quotes Labour's education spokesman Tristram Hunt.

He said the diversion of £400m from a fund to guarantee school places for all into the free schools budget was an "act of ideological vandalism" by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Michael Gove has been branded a "zealot" over his attachment to the free schools programme

The Independent says both sides are accusing each other of making misleading statements.

It quotes a department of education spokesman as saying: "The suggestion we are cutting money for new places in areas of need to pay for free schools where they are not needed is totally wrong."

The Times leader concedes that the free school programme does seem to eat up a lot of time and money "on a project that provides the tiniest fraction of the nation's 24,000 schools".

It says the solution to the "very onerous" capital requirements of free schools is to allow such schools to return a "modest, regulated profit".

This, it adds, would allow Mr Gove to demand that such schools brought "their own risk capital", lessening the burden on the taxpayer.

The row has seen the government descend into a "shambles of infighting and embarrassing Punch and Judy politics", the Daily Mail's comment declares.

Headlining its opinion leader column "feuding, that's no way to run a government" the paper adds that it is little wonder electors are disillusioned with the "remote and self-serving" political class.

'Significant threat'

The Daily Mail hits out at what it calls "soft justice", reporting that British courts suspend a third of all jail terms.

The paper says this figure is up from 2% of all sentences just a decade ago.

It adds that almost 11,000 criminals received suspended sentences despite having more than 10 previous convictions for serious offences.

Its leader column says the figures show a justice system becoming "quietly more and more lenient" by "encouraging" criminals to "keep on preying" on the public.

The Daily Telegraph quotes the director of the campaign group which researched the figure as saying "suspended sentences should be abolished".

"These figures show that criminals given suspended sentences go on to commit hundreds of thousands of crimes," said Peter Cuthbertson, of the Centre for Crime Prevention.

Should criminals be among the 48,000 The Times reports were sent straight to jail, last year, there are further problems.

The paper reports that prison officers are "powerless" to intervene as prisoners are converted to radical Islam inside Britain's jails.

It looks ahead to a BBC Panorama report tonight that interviews a Muslim convert jailed for trying to impose Sharia law regulations on London streets who admits to converting fellow inmates while serving his sentence.

The paper notes that the number of Muslim prison inmates has doubled in a decade to 11,600, but points out that this may be because half the Muslim population of Britain is under 25, the age where people are most likely to be in trouble with the law.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the man in charge of managing offenders services for government, Michael Spurr, says prison radicalisation is "a significant threat" in this country.

It also notes that Nick Hardwick, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons has said that Muslim prisoners consistently report feeling less safe than non-Muslim offenders.

"If they don't feel they are being protected by staff, they'll join a group that they think can provide protection," he added.

Such groups can include the country's 100 or so al-Qaeda linked prisoners, the paper implies.

Facial hair

The fuss over one of the more memorable Eurovision Song Contests has not abated in the press.

The Sun reports the victory by bearded Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst has sparked a "furred world war" with Russian ultra-nationalists.

Their political leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky reportedly commented that the win "showed supporters of European integration their political future - a bearded girl".

Ms Wurst - in real life former Austrian boyband member Thomas Neuwirth - said in response: "It's strange that a little facial hair causes such excitement."

Exciting times may be ahead for Ms Wurst however, as the Daily Star says she is tipped to be the contest's biggest-earning winner since Abba and could make £25m from her fame.

Offers to appear in Las Vegas and have a film made about her life have already appeared, the paper adds.

The Independent reports on the British public's real choice as winners of the contest.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Vladimir Zhirinovsky: No fan of drag artistes he

It reports that "raunchy" Polish duo Donatan & Cleo - whose act included "suggestive butter churning" were runaway winners of the British telephone vote.

However because Britain's "expert" panel rated them as the worst act of the night, the combined vote (split 50/50 expert to public) gave the Poles no points from Britain, with the hirsute Austrian gaining the maximum 12.

Despite only finishing 14th on the night, the Polish duo appear to have won the YouTube contest, gaining 40 million views, the Independent adds.

Writing in the opinion section of the Daily Telegraph, Cristina Odone says the "bearded woman's victory" was "one in the eye" for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

She says Mr Putin, who "has made machismo the defining characteristic of his office" has depicted the West as the "decadent incubator of gays and lesbians".

The "kitschy show" Ms Odone argues held up a "reliable mirror of Europe's many faces" against such attitudes.

But possibly, not a well-viewed mirror in Russia. The nation (and neighbouring Belarus) blocked Conchita Wurst's performance from their transmissions, she adds.

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