Newspaper headlines: Cameron's EU summit 'fight', US Fed rate rise and daffodils in December

David Cameron's EU reform proposals come under the spotlight in Thursday's press ahead of a summit in Brussels with other European leaders.

The prime minister is seeking to renegotiate the terms of the UK's relationship with the EU before an in-out referendum. But the Times reports he is "scrambling to avoid humiliation" after German Chancellor Angela Merkel effectively killed off his key demand to limit migrants' entitlement to UK benefits.

Image copyright Reuters

According to the Financial Times, Mr Cameron will now try to persuade fellow leaders to commit to finding a solution that would prove he was addressing voters' concerns over migration.

Government sources quoted in the Independent suggest that the onus was now on the EU leaders to come up with proposals that met Mr Cameron's demands.

The Daily Mail says if Mr Cameron can make progress on securing a deal, he is planning to hold a snap referendum in June next year - "before the warmer weather triggers another summer of migrant chaos".

Something for voters

The Daily Telegraph says a new poll shows voters are turning against the EU as Mr Cameron is facing a fight in Brussels. But 35% of those surveyed, including a significant percentage of those who are currently leaning towards leaving, said they would consider remaining if the PM can win concessions.

In its leader column, the Daily Telegraph says the EU needs to give Mr Cameron "something that he can sell to voters at home". If it continues to treat this matter as a sideshow, they could be in for a shock, it says.

The Sun says Mr Cameron must leave the other summit leaders in no doubt that Britain's continued membership hinges on "meaningful immigration controls". The leaders resisting such reform need a "reality check", it says.

Mr Cameron has to show flexibility if he is not to be rebuffed completely, says the Financial Times, but his EU partners cannot ignore the domestic political pressures on the prime minister and must help forge a "marketable compromise" that helps him.

The Daily Mail believes it would be "wrong to rush the debate" by bringing the date of the referendum forward, and wants the "closest possible scrutiny" of any concessions Mr Cameron may secure this week.

A leading article in the Independent says Mr Cameron is the "odd man out" at a summit where European leaders are grappling with Syria and security implications after the Paris attacks.

The Guardian suggests the prime minister should no longer see the meeting as a "crunch moment" in his reform efforts. But it says the European Commission's hope this week "to get a humane collective grip on the EU's borders, is central to the credibility of the union that UK voters will soon be asked to vote on".

Eye-catching headlines

Blood rain

It may be an unusual sight in December but unseasonable weather over much of the UK sees the appearance of photographs of flowers in bloom and people in short sleeves, punting on the river Cam.

The run-up to Christmas is experiencing summer-like conditions, says the Daily Telegraph. Some of Britain's earliest daffodils are in full bloom as far north as Chester and Northern Ireland, and the flowers are being sold in stores alongside Christmas trees.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Daffodils in December - in bloom near Windsor Castle

Daffodils, more usually associated with Easter, have appeared in a week where daytime temperatures could top the record high of 18C set in 1972, says the Guardian.

The Daily Mail reports shops are offering "desperate discounts" to shift winter clothes.

However, the Daily Express leads with a warning by health experts for people with asthma and other conditions to be on alert as a Saharan dust cloud "smothers Britain".

Southern and eastern areas are predicted to be the worst affected and the Daily Mirror says a mix of the desert sand and ­downpours could spark a deluge of "blood rain", where it gets into the water droplets leaving a fine layer of red dust.

What the commentators say...

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Media captionBroadcaster Penny Smith and Liam Halligan, economics commentator for the Daily Telegraph, join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages

'Historic gamble'

The Daily Telegraph sees the decision by the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by a quarter of a point as a "watershed moment" for the global economy.

Image copyright AP

The move, reports the Financial Times, called an end to the near-zero borrowing costs that have prevailed in the US since it was struck by the worst economic crash in modern times. But the FT says it represents a historic gamble by Fed chair Janet Yellen because global growth remains lacklustre and foreign central banks are following alternative policies.

Simon English in the Times says the Fed's move is "supposed to signal that the worst financial trauma in history is now officially over and that normality can resume... but an alternative and darker possibility" is that it is raising rates only so it can axe them later once the next crisis arrives.

In a leader titled "the rate rise reflects the old economics, not the new normal", the Guardian expands on that hypothesis.

"Even though the Fed was careful to signal that it will tread cautiously in relation to future rate rises, the dollar's might in the world's financial system remains such that other countries could be forced to follow suit... If the chain reaction proves severe the question is whether the US, too, could be beating a retreat."

The Daily Mail's City editor Alex Brummer says the Bank of England is unlikely to react immediately by raising rates, but the "die has been cast". But he predicts there could potentially be an early impact on UK mortgage deals, which are largely set by conditions in the wholesale markets.

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