AS a child in the 1950s, I vividly recall walking down Solihull High Street choking on the acrid fumes from traffic.
Since then the number of vehicles on our roads has increased dramatically as the wealth of our country has grown.
But the air we breathe is relatively clean today and this is because modern vehicles pump out fewer noxious fumes than before.
It is said that a Ford Cortina from the 1960s was 40 times more polluting than a modern Mondeo.
So how have these changes come about ?
Fuels and engine technology advanced gradually during in the last century but since the 1990s there has been rapid improvement due to intervention of the EU.
Strict standards for new vehicles have been laid down for car manufacturers and the producers of fuel.
Lead has been removed from petrol and sulphur has been reduced.
Engines are much leaner and travel greater distances for a gallon of fuel saving the motorist money at the pump and reducing pollution in the air.
We in the UK have been at the forefront of introducing new standards for vehicles but we could not have achieved this on our own.
By acting through the EU and joining forces with other European countries we have secured massive improvements to the air our children breathe.
The EU comprises about one third of the spending power in the world so we carry huge weight in influencing the market.
On our own we would be powerless but acting together in the EU we can force the multi-nationals to act in the best interests of the people of Europe.
Next week, in the Euro Elections on June 4, we have an opportunity to decide if we want to continue to work together with others in our common interest to create better lives for us all.
The alternative is to go our separate way unable to influence events around us and allow multi-national companies and events to decide our future.
l David Jamieson was a transport minister from 2001 to 2005 with responsibility for cleaner vehicles.