Dick Toornstra was involved in parliamentary activities for nearly 40 years as a senior official of the European Parliament (EP), until his retirement in the summer of 2014. During that period, he exercised many different responsibilities including heading departments dealing with general administration, research, communication and EU enlargement as well as being Secretary General of the European Socialists and Chief of Staff of the President of the European Parliament.
For 10 years he also co-directed the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation, an organisation jointly run by the EP and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. From its inception in 2006, he was the senior advisor of the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament and helped create the World e-Parliament Conference and World e-Parliament report.
In 2007 he created the EP Office for Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy, which coordinated and initiated all EP non-political activities concerning its democratisation assistance in over 40 countries. Widely regarded as an expert in governance issues, he has advised the political leadership in various parliaments.
Born and raised in the Netherlands, he studied in that country, the USA and Belgium, obtaining Masters in fiscal law, economics and public administration. Prior to joining the EP, he was employed at the Dutch Ministry of Finance.