European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has defended the commission's ruling that Ireland granted Apple illegal state aid.

Speaking during a European Parliament debate on the ruling in Strasbourg, she said the decision followed an in-depth investigation following two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple.

She said Ireland gave a selective advantage to Apple over two decades and this is illegal under EU state aid rules, but said the state aid decision into Apple does not call into question into Ireland’s tax regime or its corporate tax rate.

The Danish Commissioner added that she will defend the ruling in light of the decision by Apple and Ireland to appeal and hopes the ruling will be published soon.

Ms Vestager said all companies big or small should pay taxes where they generate their profits and that transparency is very important in a democratic society and basic tax information should be made public.

A single market of more than 500 million companies is a good enough reason to be tax compliant, she concluded.

Spanish EPP MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain said: "We must say loud and clear that the party is over. Although multinationals create jobs they must pay taxes and we need a consolidated tax basis."

Belgian ECR MEP Sander Loones complimented the commissioner for her "courage" in taking on an iconic brand like Apple.

He added that the consumer is king in a single European market and it is not the right of big companies to win advantage through big lobby work.

This morning European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker gave his EU State of the Union address to the parliament.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said he defends the right of national parliaments to set their own tax rates but said that this was not on of the occasions. 

He said the ruling has no effect on Ireland's tax rate and potential investors can be assured of a 12.5% tax rate and a skilled workforce here. 

Mr Carthy added: "The announced appeal is morally wrong and economically stupid."

Green MEP Philippe Lamberts said he wanted to replicate Ms Vestager, as she "defends the European general interest and she does it with conviction".

Italian MEP Marco Valli said there should be more sanctions for multi nationals in dealing with these issues.

He said it is a matter that the EU is talking about dealing with for 20 years and "we need to have the guts to co-operate at international level and name and shame those who are against this type of agreement."

Independent Irish MEP Marian Harkin asked: "Can EU state aid rules determine the tax policy of sovereign member states?" She said that she does not know the answer and that is why we need the clarity of the European Courts of Justice.

Ms Harkin said the €13bn back tax order has been a bauble in front of Ireland. She was critical of Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and asked if he can guarantee money for schools and hospitals as some people have started to draw up plans for them with the €13bn.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly said: "If it is morally wrong to defend the reputation for your country, what is morally right?"

He said he takes issue with the use of competition law to undermine the rights of a sovereign state.

Mr Kelly also said that if these companies leave Ireland they will not be going to Paris or Berlin, but instead to Singapore or elsewhere.