Environmental Research infrastructures are expected to become important pillars not only for supporting their own communities, but also a) for inter-disciplinary research and b) for the European Earth Observation Program Copernicus as a contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). As such, it is very important that data-related activities of the ENVRI community research infrastructures will be well integrated. This requires common policies, models and e-infrastructure to optimise technological implementation, define workflows, and ensure coordination, harmonisation, integration and interoperability of data, applications and other services within the ENVRI community. The key is interoperating common metadata systems (utilising a richer metadata model as the ‘switchboard’ for interoperation with formal syntax and declared semantics). The metadata characterises data, services, users and ICT resources (including sensors and detectors). This approach provides an e-infrastructure that is virtualised for end-users but within which expert domain users and ICT experts can work to provide improved services as requirements evolve.