Do Migrants cost billions or just a few millions?

“We had to give a strong signal of humanity to show that Europe’s values are valid also in difficult times,” said Germany’s SPD Secretary-General Yasmin Fahimi after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Germany’s willingness to welcome some 800,000 migrants by the end of 2015. Although a majority of the European citizens, apart from Germany’s, seemed to disapprove this move, other European governments like France’s finally chose to accept European Union (EU) quotas and to welcome dozens of thousands of additional migrants. As a result, a fierce political debate has started about whether these migrants are coming to Europe for humanitarian or economic reasons.

While Europe as a whole is still coping with economic crisis and mass unemployment, some people worried that the cost of such surprise immigration will be unbearable. The divergence between Germany which said it will spend between €2 and €10 billion and France which said the cost would be worth “just a few millions euros” highlighted the fact that nobody has any clear idea of migrants’ financial cost to Europe. If one adds up migrant crisis-related spending by European organizations and governments, including border management, military operations in Iraq and Syria and the reception of the migrants in Europe, the overall cost to the EU as a whole could vary between €25 and €35 billion over two years.