Jakob Gijsbert (Jaap) de Hoop Scheffer was born in Amsterdam on 3 April 1948. After completing his secondary education, he studied law at Leiden University, graduating in 1974. From 1974 to 1976 he performed his military service in the Royal Netherlands Air Force and was discharged as a reserve officer.
From 1976 to 1986, he was employed in the Foreign Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He started in the spokesmen’s service (1976). From 1976 to 1978, he served at the Embassy in Accra (Ghana). He then worked at the Permanent Delegation to NATO in Brussels until 1980, where he was responsible for issues relating to defence planning. He was in charge of the private office of four successive Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Van der Klaauw, Van der Stoel, Van Agt and Van den Broek) until 1986.
Mr De Hoop Scheffer was elected to the House of Representatives of the States General for the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) in June 1986. He became the party’s spokesperson on foreign policy (as well as asylum and refugee policy and European justice matters) in the House and served on the Permanent Committees on Justice, European Affairs and Defence. From 1989 to 1994 he chaired the Permanent Committee on Development Cooperation.
From 1986 to 1994 he was also a member of the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Western European Union (WEU). In 1990, during the Gulf crisis, he served as WEU rapporteur on the consequences of the invasion of Kuwait and continuing operations in the Gulf region. From 1994 to1997, he was a member of the North Atlantic Assembly.
He served as deputy leader of the CDA parliamentary party in the House of Representatives from December 1995 to March 1997, when he was elected leader.
In October 2001, he resigned as leader of the parliamentary party and as the political leader of the CDA. From November 2001 to 15 May 2002, he chaired the House Permanent Committee on Foreign Affairs.
On 22 July 2002, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in the first Balkenende government. He was appointed to the same post in the second Balkenende government on 27 May 2003 (until 3 December 2003).
The Netherlands held the Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2003. Mr De Hoop Scheffer was the Chairman-in-Office of that organisation until 3 December 2003.
He was a member and deputy chairman of the Atlantic Commission, and served on the board of the Foundation on Interethnic Relations, a think-tank supporting the work of the former OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel. He also served on the board of Leiden Institute of Higher Professional Education. He was a member of the Netherlands Federation of Christian Employers (NCW) committee for the Netherlands Management Cooperation Programme in Eastern Europe, chaired the Netherlands Council for Trade Promotion (NCH), and served on the advisory board of Amsterdam Nyenrode Law School. (Since becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs, he has not held positions in other organisations.)
He is married to Jeannine de Hoop Scheffer-van Oorschot, who teaches French and holds positions in various volunteer groups. They have two daughters. In his free time, he is a dedicated runner and plays tennis and squash. He enjoys singing and is fond of Dutch, French and English literature, as well as French films.