PARIS (Reuters) - The European Central Bank's decision this week to slow the pace of its asset purchases is a sign of confidence in the economy, though it still needs protection heading into a busy electoral year, ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said.

"There are political risks everywhere, inside and outside of the euro zone. It's not up to the ECB to manage political risks, that's for the politicians to do," Coeure said on French radio Europe 1.

"But it's up to us to draw the economic consequences and the euro zone will still need financial protection to get through 2017, which will be very risky," he said, adding that he did not see a risk of banking crisis.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ingrid Melander)


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