European countries have spent 11.3 billion euros in the last 15 years on deporting illegal migrants and another 1.6 billion euros on border control around "Fortress Europe", journalists said in a study published Wednesday.
The study was published as the European Union plans to reinforce the fight against illegal immigration, while trying to encourage reluctant member states to admit tens of thousands of asylum seekers and refugees.
The study by the Migrants\’ Files, a consortium of European journalists and other groups, said the 28 EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland have spent more than 11.3 billion euros ($12.8 billion) to deport millions of people since 2000.
On average, the deportation of each individual cost on average 4,000 euros ($4,200), with half of that covering transport.
European countries also spent 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) on border control, while migrants paid more than 15.7 billion euros ($17.8 billion) to smugglers to help them reach the continent, according to the study by 20 journalists, statisticians and other experts from 16 countries.
More than 600,000 migrants asked for asylum in the European Union in 2014.
From January to the end of May 2015, more than 100,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, risking there lives to try to reach Europe on board rickety, overcrowded boats. More than 1,800 of them drowned.
According to the study, the EU border agency Frontex used up nearly one billion euros while Mediterranean countries have spent at least 70 million euros on buying boats, night vision equipment, drones, off-road vehicles and other hardware to monitor borders.
The walls around the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa cost nearly 10 million euros to maintain.
Since 2011, Italian taxpayers have paid authorities in Libya more than 17 million euros for boats, training and night vision goggles to track refugees and migrants.
But the study said European countries have "done nothing to deter refugees from attempting to reach Europe" by using high-tech sensors, militarising the Greek, Italian, Bulgarian and Spanish borders, or deporting thousands of people each year.
The study authors say their results show, for the first time, the economic cost of building and maintaining what they brand "Fortress Europe".