The Water Framework Directive (WFD 2000) defines macrophytes as one of the biological groups required for the ecological assessment of European surface waters. Several indices for macrophyte assessment have been proposed or are currently in use by different European states. As a first step towards performing an intercalibration of these indices a common dataset was developed. This dataset contains abundance data on 789 macrophyte species from 316 different lake sites in ten European countries. Various common species and genera were identified as indicators of reference and impacted conditions within the dataset. Cluster analysis of macrophyte data, supported by non-metric multidimensional scaling, indicated that clusters formed were more reflective of their source country rather than lake type. This might be caused by differences in regional climate, biogeography, monitoring techniques, or a combination of these factors. A total of six national indices were applied to assign quality classes to the lakes. However, this produced results that often differed by one or two quality classes for the same site. We foresee that a more precise intercalibration exercise is necessary, and it should be based on more detailed data considering both seasonality and the latitudinal differences within the area covered.