The ePrivacy Directive – also known as the European “cookie law” – is a European Directive from 2002 (revised in 2009). It is transformed into national law across the European member states.
According to the directive, all websites in the EU must collect their visitors’ consent in order to store cookies onto the users’ computers or smart phones (devices).
Link: ePrivacy Directive 2002
This is regardless of whether your site is privately owned or pertains to a company or public authorities.
Your national Data Protection Authority has published a set of guidelines for using cookies which may vary slightly from the ePrivacy Directive.
Remember, the rules for using cookies for collecting and processing personal data is tightened with the GDPR.
Link: What is the GPDR?
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