The timing meant Phil Hogan's bid to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was just not worth the risk.
When he expressed an interest early in June, it looked as if a swift decision could be made on filling the vacancy at the Geneva-based organisation in time to meet the September 1 deadline.
Now the timetable is set to drag on quite a bit, posing a serious decision for the Irish EU Commissioner. So, Phil Hogan - who celebrates his 60th birthday on Saturday - bowed to the inevitable and took his name out of the race.
Success for Hogan would have required two things: Firstly, it would have to be clear that the post was going to go a European Union nominee. Secondly, Hogan would have to be the EU's prime - if not sole - candidate.
As the weeks ticked on, doubts emerged on both of these issues. The outgoing incumbent is Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, and it had been felt he would be succeeded by someone from "a developed country", pushing the idea that it was "Europe's turn".
If that was the case, then Hogan would be well placed to get strong EU backing due to his international trade experience as EU agriculture commissioner and, more recently, as trade commissioner. But doubts about "Europe's turn" quickly enmeshed with doubts about Hogan getting the required level of EU support.
No African country has held the post of WTO head and some Belgian and French political leaders were among those who felt it was time to remedy that gap. At the same time, others in the EU, such as Denmark, felt it was high time to address the dysfunctional mess that the WTO has become via a unity candidate - instead of insisting that a European nominee get the job.
Then there was counter-pressure from others such as the Netherlands, Germany and the Nordic countries, who disliked the idea of Phil Hogan, as a committed free trade advocate, moving from his current EU post. If Hogan left, there would have been a Commission reshuffle and his job could go to somebody with more protectionists ideas.
The Irish Government had endorsed Hogan's WTO candidature because it is very rare that such prestige posts are held by Irish people. The only time an Irish person held this particular post was from 1993 to 1995, when former EU commissioner and attorney general, Peter Sutherland, put in a very successful term.
But the realpolitik tells us that a move by Hogan from Brussels, and the pivotal post of trade commissioner, at this juncture, would not have suited Irish interests. As Brexit reaches a crucial point, there was no guarantee a replacement nominee from Ireland could hold the trade portfolio.
In all events, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen felt obliged to move Hogan away from potential conflict-of-interest allegations, working as EU Trade Commissioner, while trying to become head of the World Trade Organisation. As a precaution, he was moved from some frontline trade duties on a temporary basis.
By this week, if he was to pursue a long campaign trying to become WTO head, it was clear he would have to take extended leave to seek global support and attend appointment hearings. Yesterday, he said that with all the pressing issues coming across his desk in Brussels this was not a practical or desirable thing to do.
Hogan cited EU-US and EU-China trading tensions, and the Brexit situation. "This important EU trade agenda requires the full and careful involvement of the European Union, and in particular, the trade commissioner," he said.
There was relief in the EU Commission that the issue was resolved. Mr Hogan thanked President Von der Leyen, who he said had been generous with her advice and sensitive handling.
Other Brussels diplomats said that several member governments were equally pleased that Hogan was staying put.
In a strange way, Phil Hogan's decision might help make another Irish international appointment happen. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is in the running to become chairman of the 19 eurozone countries that use the single currency. A decision on that is due next week on Wednesday, July 8.
There are no direct link between the two jobs. But the reality is that a small country, or indeed a large one, could not muster EU support to land two prestige posts.
Donohoe is a serious contender for this part-time position of considerable influence at a critical time for Ireland. He may come through as a compromise candidate against rivals from Spain and Luxembourg. Hogan's decision may yet be beneficial.