Rural policy is no more primarily about agriculture but has to address specifically all different economic sectors and actors in the area. This seems particularly important in the Austrian context for mountain areas which have traditionally been seen as remote areas. Yet, with a portion of 70% of the total land of the country and widespread positive economic performance in large parts of West-Austrian mountains differentiation in the regional analysis of mountains is required.Moreover, with fundamental changes in the market structures and relations, programmes targeted at specific rural areas cannot neglect the emerging interrelations to other areas. These are particularly influencing in a mountain environment where increasingly social demand becomes visible that is driven by people living outside the mountain ranges. Hence a rural policy has to address directly its insertion into the regional framework and its relation to regional policy.Austria had started to develop regional action programmes on peripheral, rural mountain areas already in the late 1970s. Against the backdrop of experiences from the application of the concept of endogenous development, the paper will focus on the need to differentiate mountain analysis and reflect regional situations at a rather low geographical level. It will address the requirement for analysis of economic performance at a low geographical level and regional trends differentiating Austrian mountain regions. In addition, it will draw conclusions from the application of EU policies within parts of the areas concerned and discuss perspectives for future regional initiatives in mountain areas.