Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said in an interview with a German newspaper that the European Commission's demand that Ireland collects up to €13bn in back taxes from Apple was unjustified.

The European Commission ordered Apple to repay taxes to Ireland after ruling last year that the company paid so little tax on its Ireland-based operations that it amounted to state aid.

In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ) newspaper, Mr Donohoe said the tax rules from which Apple benefited had been available to all and were not tailored for the US technology giant. They did not violate European or Irish law, he added.

The Government has said it will collect the money pending an appeal of the ruling by Apple, but Mr Donohoe said it was not Ireland’s job and the request was not justified.

"We are not the global tax collector for everybody else," FAZ quoted the minister as saying.

The money is currently being deposited in escrow - a temporary pass-through account generally held by third parties during a business transaction.

Mr Donohoe also distanced himself from French and German proposals that the EU do more to prevent Chinese investors from buying strategically important European companies, saying this would endanger Europe's reputation for openness.

"We must be very careful not to endanger our reputation as advocates for free trade," he said.

He also appeared lukewarm on proposals by French President Emmanuel Macron for a euro zone budget and finance minister, saying the bloc's focus for the next two years should be further developing its banking union.