The European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET) was established in 2000 to derive a comprehensive, quantitative, and statistically significant data base for the aerosol distribution on the European scale. At present, EARLINET consists of 25 stations: 16 Raman lidar stations, including 8 multi-wavelength Raman lidar stations which are used to retrieve aerosol microphysical properties. EARLINET. performs a rigorous quality assurance program for instruments and evaluation algorithms. All stations measure simultaneously on a predefined schedule at three dates per week to obtain unbiased data for climatological studies. Since June 2006 the first backscatter lidar is operational aboard the CALIPSO satellite. EARLINET represents an excellent tool to validate CALIPSO lidar data on a continental scale. Aerosol extinction and lidar ratio measurements provided by the network will be particularly important for that validation. The measurement strategy of EARLINET is as follows: Measurements are performed at all stations within 80 km from the overpasses and additionally at the lidar station which is closest to the actually overpassed site. If a multi-wavelength Raman lidar station is overpassed then also the next closest 3+2 station performs a measurement. Altogether we performed more than 1000 correlative observations for CALIPSO between June 2006 and June 2007. Direct intercomparisons between CALIPSO profiles and attenuated backscatter profiles obtained by EARLINET lidars look very promising. Two measurement examples are used to discuss the potential of multi-wavelength Raman lidar observations for the validation and optimization of the CALIOP Scene Classification Algorithm. Correlative observations with multi-wavelength Raman lidars provide also the data base for a harmonization of the CALIPSO aerosol data and the data collected in future ESA lidar-in-space missions.