Since 2012 it has been a legal requirement for websites within the EU (or which target users within the EU) to obtain explicit acceptance from the user for non-essential cookies to be stored on their device. Read on to find out more about what this means, whether or not your website needs to comply and if so, how to do so.
Non-essential cookies are any which aren't absolutely necessary for the basic functioning of your website. A common example of these are the tracking cookies used by basically all analytics services - so yes, if you're using any analytics service, you're using "non-essential" cookies in the terms of this directive. Essential cookies constitute cookies which store login credentials and shopping cart items, as these are literally required for the functioning of websites which use them.
If your website uses any non-essential cookies (see above) and you strive in any way to acquire traffic from within the EU then you need to comply with this law.
The official wording of the directive states that websites which want to store non-essential cookies must gain the consent of users to do so - the general understanding being that this consent must be explicit (i.e. the user must specifically click something to state that they accept these terms). Fortunately this is the internet, so there are lots of snippets available online which you can drop right into your page to show a pop up banner asking for consent.
Probably nothing. The directive affects literally hundreds of millions of websites so it's almost impossible to police. Ultimately it's pretty easy to make sure you comply though, so you might as well throw a banner onto your website and not have to worry about it.
Hopefully this article has helped you get to grips with EU cookie compliance. Yes it's a bit of a pain, but it's pretty easy to make sure that your website complies, so you might as well do it unless you're absolutely certain that you don't have to.