The EU directives on air quality force member states to inform the public on the status of the ambient air quality. The Internet is commonly used for this purpose and often air quality is being presented as an index ranging from good to bad. A review of existing websites and air quality indices shows that the way air quality is interpreted differs considerably. The paper presents a new air quality index. The index is part of a project to develop a website dedicated to comparing air quality in European cities. The common air quality index (CAQI) is not aimed at replacing existing local indices. The CAQI is a set of two indices: one for roadside monitoring sites and one for average city background conditions. Differentiating between roadside and general city conditions is a first step in assuring consistence in the parameters that are being compared.