The sparsely populated northern Sweden has been the main target area for regional policy efforts since the 1960s. A rich variety of regional policy measures have been launched over the years. However, despite this and a heavy expansion of welfare undertakings a significant depopulation has taken place. Also the first generation of EU Structural Funds show very weak structural impacts on development of employment and population. Against this background the need is highlighted to reconsider fundamental principles behind policymaking. The paper argues for more active efforts to change attitudes and behaviour among economic actors and households in order to achieve stronger structural impacts. As a critical part of this the elaboration is suggested of new proactive strategies aiming at more sustainable spatial structures of welfare distribution and job opportunities in this type of increasingly vulnerable peripheries.