Ireland will appeal against the European Commission's ruling forcing it to recover billions in back-taxes from Apple, the country's Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Tuesday as he sought to defend the country's tax system.
"Now the commission has reached a filing, we have the right to appeal it," Noonan told CNBC on Tuesday.
The European Union's legislative arm, the European Commission, ruled on Tuesday that Ireland must recover up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) - plus a hefty amount of interest - in "illegal tax benefits" from the U.S. tech giant.
Noonan said he disagreed "profoundly" with the decision and that Ireland would contest the ruling.
"We stand by the legitimacy of what was done in the past ... we think the Commission is getting involved in what is the competence of sovereign governments in Europe…. This is an approach through the back door to try and influence tax policy through competition law," he told CNBC.
The ruling comes after an investigation led by Europe's competition commissioner found that Ireland had given Apple an unfair advantage compared to other companies in breach of EU state aid rules.
"The European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to 13 billion euros to Apple," the commission said in a statement Tuesday.
"This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid."