Regional seas are potentially highly vulnerable to climate change, yet are the most directly societally important regions of the marine environment. The combination of widely varying conditions of mixing, forcing, geography (coastline and bathymetry) and exposure to the open-ocean makes these seas subject to a wide range of physical processes that mediates how large scale climate change impacts on these seas' ecosystems. In this paper we explore the response of five regional sea areas to potential future climate change, acting via atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial vectors. These include the Barents Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Celtic Seas, and are contrasted with a region of the Northeast Atlantic. Our aim is to elucidate the controlling dynamical processes and how these vary between and within these seas. We focus on primary production and consider the potential climatic impacts on: long term changes in elemental budgets, seasonal and mesoscale processes that control phytoplankton's exposure to light and nutrients, and briefly direct temperature response. We draw examples from the MEECE FP7 project and five regional model systems each using a common global Earth System Model as forcing. We consider a common analysis approach, and additional sensitivity experiments.