During the last few decades many parts of Western Europe have been influenced by developments that have caused major changes to their spatial, functional and social characteristics. In the case of Denmark a process of centralisation and concentration of economic growth, employment and people has been taken place in and around its larger cities. Contrary to this, rural and peripheral parts of the country have been stagnating and loosing both jobs and inhabitants over a long period of time. Government policies address these problems by stressing the need for building on local strengths and qualities following the 'new rural paradigme' where key elements are a focus on places rather than sectors and on investments rather than subsidies. The paper discusses policies, discourses and strategies in relation to futures of rural and peripheral areas and addresses whether problems are of a more general nature which may call for other, more coherent national policies and programs. The study draws on experiences in the municipalities of Norddjurs and Guldborgsund.