Jo Leinen was born in the Saarland at the German-French border. He concentrated on laws and economics at the Universities of Saarbrücken and Bonn. He continued his studies at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium and the Institute for World Affairs located in Connecticut, USA. Leinen began his career as a legal trainee at the Higher Regional Court Koblenz and soon after became a well-established lawyer in Freiburg/Breisgau.
Before becoming an MEP, Jo Leinen was Minister for the Environment in the State Government of Saarland, Germany from 1985-1994. From November 1994 until September 1999, he played the triple role of Chairman of the Committee for European Affairs in the State Parliament of Saarland, Germany and member of both the Committee of the Regions and Congress of Regions of the Council of Europe. After being President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) from 1997 to 2005 he was appointed the organization's Honorary President. He served as a Vice President of the European Movement International (EMI) from 2003 to 2011, before becoming its President in November 2011.
Since July 1999 Mr. Leinen has been a Member of the European Parliament. He was a Member of the Convention for the Elaboration of a Charter of Fundamental Rights for the EU. From 2004 to 2009 he was President of the Constitutional Affairs Committee and from 2009 to 2011 he chaired the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
He is a full member in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and a substitute member of the Committee for Foreign Affairs and of the EP's Working Group on EU-UN relations. He is also a full member of the Delegation for the relations with India and a substitute in the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.