The author discusses questions concerning the significance of the Directive on Free Access to Information Concerning the Environment approved by the European Council of Ministers on 7 June 1990 and first considers the relative importance of free access to information. Further sections deal with the right to information in the member states, EC environmental law and the information of the public. The essential regulations of the directive are presented in detail: the prehistory of the directive, aims, definition of 'information concerning the environment' and public authority, exceptions and procedures. In an outlook consequences for individual regulations of the Law on Administrative Procedures and the Rules of the Administrative Courts are addressed and the urgency of a corresponding ruling for the institutions of the Community themselves is pointed out; the Commission has already announced such a proposal. (RST).