Spain accepts its share of migrants under EU quota plan

Migrants arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on a dinghy on September 9, 2015 (AFP Photo/Angelos Tzortzinis)
Migrants arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on a dinghy on September 9, 2015 (AFP Photo/Angelos Tzortzinis)

Madrid (AFP) - Spain has accepted its share of migrants under a quota system proposed on Wednesday by the European Commission, a government source said.

Spain has agreed to take in 14,931 refugees as proposed by the Commission, in addition to 2,749 who were accepted in July, bringing the country's total to 17,680, the source told AFP.

The EU unveiled plans Wednesday to take 160,000 refugees from overstretched border states, to ease the pressure from the worst migration crisis since World War II.

The plans call for compulsory quotas for member states, calculated according to a country's GDP, population, jobless rate and number of already-processed asylum applications.

"The prime minister has already said that Spain would accept the figure proposed by the European Commission. The government's intent is to accept this figure," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya told reporters earlier on Wednesday before the EU's plan was presented.

She did not give further details, saying only that the process needed to be "orderly".

The position appears to be a U-turn by Spain's conservative government.

In July, it resisted the Commission's original proposal, which called for Spain to take a number of refugees that was smaller than under the plan unveiled on Wednesday.

The Spanish government argued at the time that its high unemployment rate of 22.4 percent and the huge amount of migrants that already reach its southern shores directly from Africa limited its absorption capacity.

The Commission had originally proposed that Spain take 4,288 refugees out of the 40,000 refugees which Europe would accept, drawn from those already in the EU and those being resettled from outside the bloc, but Madrid only agreed to take 2,749.

Spain like European nations has faced mounting pressure to accept a greater share of refugees, spurred especially by pictures last week of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach.